Since the COVID-19 outbreak, people have experienced confusion, anxiety and fear, resulting in a decrease in the number of patients seeking vital medical help. Doctor Daniel Falcao, associate professor in the Neurology Department and interim director for the Comprehensive Stroke Center at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), sat down virtually with CBS 6 News to talk about the impact fear has had on preventing patients who show symptoms of a stroke from coming to the hospital.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and knowing when to act F.A.S.T. are critical for better outcomes. Falcao said the acronym, F.A.S.T., stands for facial weakness, arm or leg weakness, slurred speech, and time dependent, meaning don’t delay calling 9-1-1 for help. Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the country, affecting 795,000 individuals every year, and they are also a leading cause of long-term disability. Risk factors for having a stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. A person who has already had a stroke is also at higher risk. With VCU Health seeing a 37-percent decrease in patients who are showing symptoms of a stroke, Falcao believes fear of becoming infected by COVID-19 may be causing people to avoid seeking the help they need.

Dr. Falcao encourages anyone who has had a stroke to continue staying in touch with his or her primary care physician and to keep having regular visits even if it’s through the telehealth platform. Falcao wants patients to know that VCU Health has changed protocols and practices to adjust to the COVID-19 outbreak so both health care providers and patients are safe and patients are able to receive the appropriate care.

To view Dr. Falcao’s interview with CBS 6 News, as well as the interview conducted by Alex Nowak, senior public relations specialist for VCU, please click on the links provided below.

CBS 6 News Interview

VCU Health Interview

NPR-VPM Interview