Fear of the coronavirus may be leading people with life-threatening emergencies, like a heart attack or stroke, to stay home when they would normally have rushed to the emergency room, preliminary research suggests. Without prompt treatment, some patients could suffer permanent damage or lose their life.

Emergency rooms have about half the normal number of patients, and heart and stroke units are not nearly as full as usual,  according to doctors at many urban medical centers. Some medical experts fear more people are dying from untreated emergencies than from the coronavirus.

During this, National Stroke Awareness Month, the take-home message is that we should not avoid getting treatment for stroke or any other major emergencies for fear of the virus.  Those emergencies could actually have an outcome that is much worse.  Medical facilities across the country have instituted strict measures to keep new patients safe, no matter what their illness or emergency.

Symptoms of a stroke may not always be obvious at first. Would you be able to recognize the warning signs? Knowing how to act FAST can help save someone’s life.

According to the CDC, stroke kills more than 130,000 Americans each year. Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. These statistics highlight the importance of knowing how to spot the signs of a stroke and what actions to take. A person's survival rate drastically increases when they are able to receive medical treatment right away.

Possible signs of a stroke can include trouble seeing out of one or both eyes, difficulty walking or keeping balance, and a severe headache. By knowing how to recognize the signs of a stroke, we are able to act FAST and help save a life.

FAST is an acronym that we all should know.  Here's what it means.

  • ThinkStock Cameron Whitman
    ThinkStock Cameron Whitman


    Look at the person’s Face and ask them to smile. Check to see if it is uneven.  A drooping face is a sign of a stroke.

  • ThinkStock - Tharakorn
    ThinkStock - Tharakorn


    Ask the person to raise one Arm. Check to see if the arm is weak and if they are unable to raise it.

  • ThinkStock Cathy Yeulet
    ThinkStock Cathy Yeulet


    Ask the person to Speak and listen for signs of slurring.

  • Thinkstock Images
    Thinkstock Images


    Time is critical for someone suffering from a stroke and medical attention is required as soon as possible.

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