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Valley stroke center discusses signs of strokes and what to do if it happens

(Barrow Neurological Institute)

PHOENIX — KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Community Spotlight this month focuses on a Valley stroke center that responded to our own “Detour Dan” Beach two years ago, while also identifying the signs of a stroke and how to be prepared if one happens.

May is Stroke Awareness Month and identifying the symptoms is the first step to ensuring fast medical treatment.

“Anyone, anytime, anywhere, sleep and awake, stroke affects all of us,” Dr. Michael Waters, director of the Petznick Stroke Center at Barrow Neurological Institute, told KTAR News 92.3 FM.

Waters said the easiest way to remember signs of the neurological and cardiovascular disease is the recognition acronym “BE FAST,” which stands for balance, eye, face, arms, speech and time.

The symptoms include loss of balance, lack of coordination, loss of vision, weakness in an arm or leg and slurred speech. The faster a person receives medical attention, the more likely they’ll be kept alive, according to Waters.

He suggested keeping someone experiencing a stroke down and comfortable while waiting for help.

Two years ago, Beach struggled with minor symptoms the morning he entered the news station. Prior to his lips becoming numb before delivering the morning traffic report, he didn’t know the symptoms were that of a stroke.

Martha Maurer, KTAR News 92.3 FM’s news director, was the first to notice something was off when Beach walked up late, flustered and sweating.

As he began telling her he felt something was wrong, she said it was difficult to understand him.

“For ‘Detour Dan’ who is our traffic reporter for 20 years, for him to not be able to say those words clearly, I knew something was wrong,” Maurer said. “As soon as you know something is wrong, don’t waste any time because it may be nothing but it could also be something serious, so call 911.”

The Barrow Emergency Stroke Treatment Unit showed up at the news station to treat Beach.

If a certain number of boxes are checked in a case, Barrow is dispatched along with the Phoenix Fire Department to evaluate a person.

Grateful for Maurer’s presence and fast action that day, Beach said “When you’re the one experiencing it, you’re not thinking quick.

“BE FAST is that important because when it’s happening to you, you can’t think of the BE FAST.”

A stroke can happen in one of two primary ways.

An Ischemic stroke is when blood vessels that deliver oxygen and nutrients to the brain are blocked, while a hemorrhagic stroke is when there is bleeding in the brain.

Waters said strokes can be prevented and treated.

He suggests eating right, getting regular exercise, avoid smoking and maintaining some level of activity throughout the week.

The medical risk factors are hypertension, diabetes and high cholesterol, all three being modifiable, according to Waters.

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