In the effort to educate people about the signs and symptoms of stroke, the FAST acronym was developed. It is an easy way to remember the early indicators of stroke.
One side of the face begins to droop noticeably or is numb. Ask the person to smile, does one side of the face droop?
One arm loses movement or is numb. Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech is impacted. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase like “The dog is brown”. Can they repeat it or is their speech garbled, slurred or strange?
Time is of the essence. The most effective treatments are administered within three hours the onset of stroke symptoms. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
Learning the FAST acronym increases the chances that stroke will be recognized early and emergency responders will be called quickly. The more people who know FAST, the more people can be helped when they suffer a stroke. As grandchildren spend more time with grandparents, it is especially important that they know the FAST acronym. They may be the first ones to witness the signs and symptoms of stroke. If they know what they are seeing, they can call 9-1-1 and get their grandparent to treatment before it is too late.
Other signs of stroke can include:
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance.
Why is it important to get immediate treatment for a stroke?
Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and may even prevent death. Eighty-five percent of the strokes in the United States are caused by a blood clot in the brain (ischemic stroke). The best and only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic stroke is the administration of a drug known as tPA (short for Alteplase IV r-tPA). tPA dissolves the blood clot that caused the stroke and increases blood flow to the brain.
If tPA is administered within 3 hours of the onset of the first symptoms of stroke it may improve recovery.
However, many stroke victims do not get to the hospital within that critical three hour window.
What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is cut off. It strikes without warning and that is why it is called a “silent killer”. According to the American Stroke Association:
- Nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke every year, with about three in four being first-time strokes.
- Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in the United States, killing nearly 130,000 people a year. That’s one in every 20 deaths.
- Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.
- Every four minutes, someone dies of stroke.
- Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability and the leading preventable cause of disability.
- More women than men have strokes each year, in part because women live longer.
What are the effects of stroke?
Stroke impacts each person differently. The long term effects of a stroke depend upon where in the brain the stroke occurred and the extent of damage to the brain. A small stroke may create temporary weakness on one side of the body or problems with the arm or leg on one side. When a bigger stroke occurs, the person may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body. They may lose the ability to speak or to process information correctly.
Two-thirds of stroke survivors are left with some type of disability. It’s important to note that recovery from stroke doesn’t end with discharge from the hospital or rehabilitation center. Quite the opposite: recovery from stroke lasts a lifetime. When medical care ends recovery continues for the long term. Small steps of progress can be made in tiny increments for years to come if therapy continues and the survivor continues to move. When the body moves it activates the brain to remember those motions and that is how small improvements may occur.
Teach everyone you know the FAST acronym. It’s important to the health of those you love.
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