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FAST Action Saves ND County Commissioner After Stroke at Meeting

IMAGE: Time is vital when it comes to treating stroke, as brain damage mounts with each passing minutes and there is just a small window of time where clot busting drugs can be administered. CREDIT: AHA
IMAGE: Time is vital when it comes to treating stroke, as brain damage mounts with each passing minutes and there is just a small window of time where clot busting drugs can be administered. CREDIT: AHA
May 20, 2013

LISBON, N.D. - A North Dakota county commissioner is back on the job just weeks after suffering a stroke during a board meeting. Steve Dick, Lisbon, said he's doing great and has had no lingering issues - thanks to fast action by those at the Ransom County meeting and then by his wife.

"She's a nurse, you see, and so she was up on stroke intervention and how quickly you need to respond to those things. So from the emergency room here in Lisbon I was on a helicopter ride up to Essentia in Fargo, and I got the care I needed as quick as possible," he said.

Dick said calling 911 and getting help right away is critical with a stroke because certain clot busting drugs can only be given within a short time frame, generally about three hours from onset. Unfortunately, in North Dakota only about half of those with stroke symptoms arrive at the hospital via an ambulance.

Time is also vital, says Dr. Ziad Darkhabani, Essentia Health, because with a stroke, brain damage begins to mount right away.

"Every minute passed, thousands of cells will die. Thousands of connections between the cells also will die, and that's why time is extremely important for the treatment of stroke."

Since fast action is needed, Darkhabani advises North Dakotans to call 911 immediately upon onset of symptoms, which can be memorized with the acronym "FAST."

"Facial, Arm, Speech and Time," he explained. "Facial - any facial weakness, basically - that's going to indicate possible stroke. Arm weakness or drift. Speech problems. And they added the 'T' just to show how important time is."

According to the American Heart Association, about 1,000 people in North Dakota suffer a stroke each year. It is the sixth-leading cause of death in the state. Risk factors include high blood pressure, high cholesterol and smoking.

More information is available at http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/.

John Michaelson, Public News Service - ND