FENTON, Mo. – Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. If you are having a stroke, every minute counts to protect the brain.

The brain requires a constant supply of oxygen to function properly, and when you have a stroke means, begin to die in just a few minutes without blood or oxygen.

To improve your chance of survival and avoid long-term damage, understanding the signs and symptoms of a stroke is the first step to getting the lifesaving care you need.

SSM Health Neurologist Jacob Kitchener says there are two types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic.

“The two main treatments upfront for ischemic strokes are medicines that will thin the blood out, sometimes referred to as a clot buster, and then also medicines that can remove a blockage of a larger blood vessel,” he said. “We use this term thrombectomy. What we’ve done is we’ve instituted a network where we’re able to see images from afar.”

SSM Health St. Clare Hospital – Fenton is a designated level-1 stroke center, which means they have a dedicated team of stroke specialists and neurointerventionalists who are skilled in medical management and catheter-based treatment of acute ischemic stroke. If you think you are having a stroke, call 911 immediately, and local ambulance paramedics will take you to the nearest designated level 1 stroke center.

SSM Health DePaul Hospital and SSM Health SLU Hospital are also designated level-1 stroke centers.

“Unfortunately, once a stroke happens, you are at risk again for having another stroke. There are varying numbers, but the number I typically use is for an ischemic stroke is one out of every six people will go on to have another one within the first five years,” Kitchener said.

To learn if you are at risk for a stroke, take this online assessment.

The phrase BE FAST is an easy way to remember what to look for: Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech and Time.

To learn more about the signs and symptoms of stroke, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.