F.A.S.T. Stroke Response

Would you recognize a stroke if you saw one?

The second-leading causes of death throughout the world, stroke occurs when the blood flow to the brain is blocked or stopped. This happens when a blood clot obstructs blood flow in an artery or when a blood vessel breaks and blood can’t reach the brain. Without blood, brain cells die and brain damage occurs.

This is a life-threatening situation. Depending on what area of the brain is affected, a stroke survivor may experience mild to major speech, memory, perception, or movement impairments.

It is important that everyone know the warning signs of a stroke occurring. After all, it’s a matter of life and death. The sooner a stroke victim receives emergency medical attention, the better the end outcome.

If you are worried that you or someone may be having a stroke, remember the simple F.A.S.T. test.

F for Face Drooping

Ask the person to smile. Notice his or her facial movements. Is one side of the face able to move while the other side droops or feels numb? A common symptom of stroke is weakness or numbness on one side of the face.

A for Arms

Second, ask the person to lift both arms. Does one arm feel weak and drift downward while trying to lift it? Strokes often cause weakness or numbness in one arm or leg.

S for Speech

Next, ask the person to say a simple phrase such as “The grass is green” or “The sky is blue.” A third common stroke symptom is slurred speech or mind confusion. If the person doesn’t understand what you’re saying, if he or she can’t repeat the phrase, or if you can’t decipher what the potential stroke sufferer is saying, it may be the result of a stroke.

T for Time

If you notice any of the symptoms listed above, it’s time to call 911. Every minute counts when it comes to stroke. Currently, the most effective treatment for stroke only works if the person receives care within the first three hours following onset of the stroke. After that small window of time, treatment may not be available. Early care may even reverse a stroke. Since recurrent strokes are often worse than the first, medical care may help prevent a more disabling or fatal stroke from occurring.

Male and Female Stroke Symptoms

When it comes to strokes, males and females may experience the same symptoms including facial, arm, and leg weakness and numbness; speech difficulty; vision problems or dimness usually in one eye; dizziness; loss of coordination; a severe headache; or a loss of consciousness. These symptoms may worsen over time or even go away.

However, it’s important to realize that women often report stroke symptoms that men don’t experience. These symptoms all come on suddenly and include limb or facial pain, hiccups, weakness, chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea, or heart palpitations. These unique symptoms may accompany the symptoms noted in F.A.S.T.

Whether the symptoms are typical or atypical, don’t ignore them. Any time you suspect stroke, play it safe and seek emergency medical attention.

Stroke Prevention

Don’t ignore the facts. This leading cause of death is preventable 80 percent of the time. You can take steps today to reduce your risk of stroke by stopping smoking; drinking alcohol in moderation; controlling your diabetes, cholesterol, and blood pressure; getting regular exercise; and eating a diet low in sodium, calories, fat, and cholesterol. So take control of your health today and you may just avoid a stroke in the future.

Another Timely Matter

Watching someone have a stroke? Note the time you first recognize stroke symptoms. This information is helpful for doctors to know how to best treat the stroke.

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