Time is brain. This phrase sends a powerful message about the importance of seeking help right away if you or someone around you is experiencing stroke symptoms. An even more powerful message is the story of Ruth Beane (pictured here at Lancaster General Hospital with her daughter and the team that treated her in Lancaster*.) Read Ruth's story and learn important warning signs that can save a life.
Ruth Beane was one week out from life-saving open heart surgery. The 63-year-old Strasburg woman had just finished breakfast. When she got up from the kitchen table to take her medications, she noticed she couldn’t swallow. That’s the last thing Ruth remembers.
Her husband, getting ready for work, heard a loud thud and rushed to the kitchen to find Ruth lying on the floor. He called 911 immediately.
When the EMS team arrived, they recognized some common symptoms of stroke—Ruth’s inability to speak and a lack of strength and coordination in her right arm and leg. They called ahead to Lancaster General Hospital.
When Ruth arrived at the hospital, the stroke team was waiting and took her right in for a CT scan. The scan showed a clot in one of the vessels on the left side of her brain. Normally the clot-busting medication tPA would be administered, but since Ruth was on blood-thinners following her recent surgery, that was not an option.
Airlifted to Penn
The stroke team quickly determined Ruth needed an advanced procedure known as a mechanical thrombectomy. Because the procedure is not currently available at Lancaster General Hospital, Ruth was airlifted to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania (HUP) where the team removed her clot in only three minutes.
By the time her husband and daughter arrived by car, Ruth was on her way to recovery. Her daughter, who works in the medical field and often sees patients rehabilitating from stroke, was apprehensive to enter her mother’s room.
She was shocked and delighted to find her mother moving both arms and legs and responding well to the medical staff’s neurological tests, just six hours after her stroke.
Two days later Ruth was discharged, grateful for her husband’s quick action in calling 911 and the seamless care provided through the LG Health and Penn Medicine partnership that left her with no lasting effects from her stroke.
Know the warning signs of stroke and act FAST
As Ruth’s story illustrates, the more quickly a stroke is recognized and treated, the better the chances of preserving brain function.
Remember the signs of stroke, and the action you need to take, with the acronym FAST: Face, Arms, Speech, Time.
- FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
- ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
- TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately. Do not drive or get a ride to the hospital. EMTs are able to provide important treatment en route to the hospital. And from the time of dispatch, hospital stroke care teams begin to prepare treatment.
Note: Lancaster General Hospital is a Certified Primary Stroke Center by The Joint Commission.
*From left: Alexa Grumbrecht, Lancaster EMS; Timothy Martin, DO, LG Health Physicians Neurology; Mrs. Beane’s daughter; Ruth Beane; Murray Flaster, MD, Stroke Medical Director, LG Health Physicians Neurology; Tracey Mousley, Stroke Program Supervisor; Scott Lintz, DO, Lancaster Emergency Associates