OSF St. Francis officials urge people to learn signs of a stroke


PEORIA, Ill. — Health leaders in Central Illinois are asking you to call 911 immediately if you see signs of a stroke.

They say there’s a better chance of patient survival and rate of recovery if they get treatment as soon as possible; that intervention can happen as soon as an ambulance crew arrives.

When someone is suffering a stroke, blood flow to the brain is blocked, causing brain cells to die.

“Those are brain cells we don’t get back. Those are brain cells that we need to function,” explained Leslie Cottrell, regional stroke coordinator at OSF HealthCare Heart of Mary Medical Center in Urbana and OSF HealthCare Sacred Heart Medical Center in Danville. She continued, “There is an opportunity if you’ve actually had a stroke, that we can decrease the swelling surrounding the area. But again, you have to get here quickly, we have to do the treatment, and we need to look you over to make sure that that doesn’t get any worse.”

Cottrell adds one in three patients doesn’t call 911 when symptoms start. They often drive the patient or themselves to the hospital or ignore warning signs.

An acronym has been created to make spotting a stroke easier: BE FAST. Call 911 if you or someone else has any of these symptoms:

  • Balance – a sudden loss of balance or coordination
  • Eyesight – sudden blurred or double vision or sudden, persistent vision trouble
  • Face – one of the sides of the face droops down or the smile is crooked
  • Arm – unable to lift an arm or keep an arm up without drifting down
  • Speech –slurred speech, unable to correctly repeat a simple phrase, or unable to understand speech
  • Time– it’s time to call 911.

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