May 06, 2014

When Stroke Occurs, Think FAST and Act FAST

When Stroke Occurs, Think FAST and Act FAST

Emil L. Matarese, MD - Aria Health's Stroke Program Director

Anyone who has or knows someone who has suffered a stroke knows that it is one of the most debilitating events that can occur. Of course, death is one outcome, but those who survive a stroke can experience tremendous negative impact on their physical , cognitive, and emotional health.

Stroke is the number one cause for permanent serious disability in adults. However, most strokes can be prevented, and most strokes can be treated if someone in close proximity to a victim quickly recognizes the warning signs and acts promptly to contact emergency medical services.

First, it's important to know the warning signs. It's easy to learn if you think of the word "FAST." This one word can make all the difference in the life of someone suffering a stroke.

Face - Does one side of the person's face droop or feel numb. Ask the person to smile.

Arm - Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both hands. Does one arm drift down?

Speech - Is speech slurred or difficult to understand? Is the person unable to speak? Ask him/her to repeat a simple sentence.

Time - Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these signs, call 911, even if the symptoms go away.

By taking immediate action and calling 911, treatment can be started even before the patient arrives at the emergency department. The stroke center receiving the patient can be alerted before arrival, and all the necessary personnel will be waiting to receive the patient, get a CAT scan of the brain, and other critical tests to determine if the victim is a candidate for a clot busting medication that can reduce the risk for permanent brain damage.

It all begins with us. The more we know about stroke and the signs to identify it, the greater the chance for survival and recovery for the victims. I encourage people to learn as much as they can about stroke symptoms so they can potentially make the difference in someone's life.

For more information, you can visit the American Stroke Association and Delaware Valley Stroke Council websites.

John Smith
John Smith

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