World Stroke Day is October 29

Learn the FAST response to stroke

People who don’t go to the hospital via EMS reduce the odds of getting the best treatment for stroke, according to a recent American Heart Association/American Stroke Association ‘Get With The Guidelines-Stroke’ data.

american-heart-association For World Stroke Day on Oct. 29, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Buffalo & Erie County will join others across the nation and the world to encourage people to save lives by responding promptly to stroke. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and second leading cause of death globally.

“Whether you are the one experiencing symptoms or you see them in someone else, remember that stroke won’t wait, and neither should you,” said Vijay Iyer, MD, PhD, Associate Professor at the University of Buffalo, and Director of Gates Vascular Institute/BGMC.

People reported varying reasons for delaying stroke treatment in an informal survey of American Stroke Association website by visitors. Several hoped symptoms would resolve on their own; many had other priorities–including finishing work; meeting up with family, or even a scheduled hair appointment. Some expressed an outdated, fatalistic view of the disease.

“Looking back, the right response is clear, but in the moment, doubt and denial are natural responses to stroke signs and can lead to bad decisions,” stated Dr. Iyer. “The heart-breaking thing is that for many of these patients, we might have been able to decrease disability if they would have gotten to us sooner and by ambulance.”

Many ischemic strokes, which account for 87 percent of all strokes and are caused by an obstruction of blood flow to the brain, can be treated with the clot-busting medication tissue plasminogen activator (IV r-tPA/alteplase) and a stent retriever device that removes the clot. Research has shown that 91 percent of eligible stroke patients treated with IV r-tPA and a stent retriever in two and a half hours or less had minimal or no disability.

“The same person who would have suffered a severely disabling or fatal stroke a few years ago now commonly walks out of the hospital a few days later,” said Alexander Khalessi, M.D., director of neurovascular surgery at the University of California, San Diego and national spokesperson for the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative.

“Decades ago there were no treatments for stroke. Now we have therapies that may interrupt even the most severe and disabling stroke if we can get to it in time.”

Through Together to End Stroke, nationally sponsored by Medtronic, the American Stroke Association teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. as an easy way to remember the most common stroke warning signs and how to respond: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.

For more information on stroke treatment and World Stroke Day resources, visit For information about local community, education, and research programs, visit the Buffalo Niagara American Heart Association at Follow us on Twitter @WNYHeart #LifeisWhyBuffalo.