Dr. Patrick Lyden: June 23, 2020

Attention Medical Producers:

Is Fear of COVID-19 Keeping Stroke Patients from Calling 911 and Going to the Hospital?

Even during a pandemic, stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate attention and can be disabling or even fatal.


Dr. Patrick Lyden

Professor of Neurology and the Carmen and Louis Warschaw Chair in Neurology at Cedars-Sinai – Los Angeles

As the country continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic, it has been critical for people to stay at home and practice social distancing to limit the spread of the virus. However, due to COVID-19, hospitals are reporting a recent decline in the number of stroke cases arriving in their emergency rooms. Some health experts suspect that fear of COVID-19 may be causing people to avoid going to the hospital or calling 911 for non-COVID related medical emergencies, like stroke. Even during a pandemic, stroke is a life-threatening medical emergency and health officials and medical groups across the country, including the American Heart Association, are urging people to seek immediate medical attention.


When it comes to stroke, it’s critical that you don’t hesitate to call 911. Seeking emergency care at the first sign of stroke should not be delayed. Emergency healthcare providers are working tirelessly to provide care for those who need it, including people showing signs of stroke, and they are taking steps to keep all patients safe and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.


The signs of stroke can be subtle and hard to recognize, so educating yourself and others is key to noticing and responding quickly. You should familiarize yourself with the acronym BE FAST, which stands for Balance, Eyes, Face, Arm, Speech, Time – the sudden onset of any of these signs could mean that someone is having a stroke. It’s important to BE FAST when you suspect stroke and call 911 right away. And remember – a stroke can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time.


For more information about BE FAST and the signs and symptoms of stroke, visit www.strokeawareness.com.


Did You Know?

  • Every year, close to 800,000 Americans have a stroke.
  • Stroke does not stop during a health crisis and can be disabling or even fatal.
  • Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke.
  • In more than 60% of stroke cases, someone other than the patient made the decision to seek medical treatment.
  • There are some stroke risk factors within your control, including making healthy lifestyle choices, regular exercise, limiting alcohol use and not smoking or using tobacco products.

About Dr. Patrick Lyden: Dr. Lyden is a world-renowned stroke expert who has made significant contributions to the investigation and management of clinical research in stroke. Over ten years ago, Dr. Lyden became Cedars-Sinai’s first chair of the Department of Neurology, which elevated the Stroke Program to a national leadership level. Dr. Lyden is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Stroke Council Chair-elect. He has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Neurology, American Neurology Association, American Heart Association and the European Stroke Organization.



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