The following content is created in partnership with Virginia Hospital Center (VHC). It does not reflect the work or opinions of NBC Washington's editorial staff. Click here to learn more about Virginia Hospital Center.

A stroke happens every 40 seconds, according to the American Stroke Association. Given this frequency, it's possible you could see—or even be—a stroke victim at some point in your life. Because early treatment can make all the difference, you should be able to recognize the early warning signs of a stroke and know what you can do to help. 

What Is a Stroke?
A stroke is the result of a problem in the circulation of blood in the brain. There are two main types: 1) hemorrhagic, which occurs when a blood vessel bursts, and 2) ischemic, caused by a blockage in the blood flow.  Both types prevent oxygen- and nutrient-rich blood from getting to the tissues where it's needed.

Every Second Counts
"When a clot causes a stroke, brain tissue is dying every minute," says Sidhartha Chandela, MD, Vice-Chief, Neurosurgery at the newly expanded Stroke Center at Virginia Hospital Center (VHC). "It’s critical to reestablish blood flow as quickly as possible." When patients with stroke symptoms arrive at VHC, tests and scans are used to locate telltale clots, blockages or narrowing of blood vessels. Once diagnosed, they receive a customized treatment and rehabilitation plan that takes into account their overall condition, special needs, goals and challenges.

B.E. F.A.S.T. Warning Signs
Remember this acronym to help spot these key warning signs of a stroke. 

Balance: Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or coordination 
Eyes: Sudden blurred or double vision
Face: Drooping, tingling or numbness
Arms: Weakness or numbness on one side
Speech: Slurred or garbled
Time: If you see any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately

Early treatment can have a big impact on recovery and quality of life. Michael Silverman, MD, Chief, Emergency Medicine, says, "At VHC, the coordinated efforts of physicians from multiple disciplines, including emergency medicine, radiology, neurology and neurosurgery, enable us to care for all complex stroke patients and do more to help the patients recover."

Providing exceptional medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, Virginia Hospital Center received accreditation as a Stroke Center of Excellence from the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) International and was awarded the Joint Commission Gold Seal of Approval for Primary Stroke Program. Click here to learn more about stroke care at Virginia Hospital Center.

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