Know FAST for a Stroke

stroke_fast2What to Know about a Stroke

Steps to Take To Reduce the Risk of A Stroke

By Elizabeth Sukys-Rice, MSW

It is vitally important that everyone be able to recognize the signs of a stroke, and call 911 for immediate care if signs of a stroke are present. A simple method for checking someone for possible signs of a stroke is to use the F A S T acronym.

Think FAST!

F-Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is th person’s smile uneven or lopsided?

A-Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drive downward?

S-Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the person able to correctly repeat the words?

T-Time to Call 911 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and say, “I think this is a stroke” to help get the person to the hospital immediately. Time is important! Don’t delay, and also note the time when the first symptoms appeared. Emergency responders will want to know.

Unsure Call Anyway!

Defining Stroke 

  Stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die.

  87% of strokes are classified as ischemic. An ischemic stroke occurs when a clot or a mass blocks a blood vessel, cutting off blood flow to a part of the brain.1

  A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel, or cerebral aneurism, ruptures, spilling blood into the brain. Like ischemic stroke, a major cause of hemorrhagic stroke is uncontrolled hypertension.

  A cryptogenic stroke is a stroke of unknown cause. About 1 in 3 ischemic strokes fall into this category.2

  A TIA (transient ischemic attack) is often called a “mini stroke” or “warning stroke”. The difference between a TIA and a stroke is that the blockage is transient, or temporary. Symptoms are exactly the same as stroke, but usually last less than five minutes. Even if symptoms go away, emergency help should be called immediately.

Stroke Warning Signs and Treatment

  Stroke patients who receive tPA within 90 minutes of symptom onset are almost 3 x more likely to recover with little or no disability.3

  AHA/ASA updated guidelines for acute ischemic stroke to recommend the use of stent retrievers for eligible patients. While tPA is a drug to dissolve a clot, a stent retriever is a medical device used to pull it out. Guidelines recommend using them together in eligible patients at capable facilities.4

  Only 9 percent of Americans can identify each letter in the F.A.S.T. acronym for stroke.5

  Most people say they would call 9-1-1 for stroke,6 but fewer people are arriving at the ER by
ambulance after suffering stroke symptoms.7

  Ethnic minorities and rural residents are less likely to call 9-1-1 at the onset of a stroke.8

  For stroke, someone other than the patient makes the decision to seek treatment in a majority
of cases.

  Telestroke allows neurologists to deliver remote treatment to stroke patients through
interactive videoconferencing.

  One study found telestroke increased use of tPA by two to six times.9

  Telestroke has proven effective in reducing racial and ethnic disparities in access to stroke

Think FAST!

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