FAST response to stroke symptoms improves outcome
Even though 80% of strokes are preventable, it’s amazing how many people ignore the warning signs. For some, it may simply be a misunderstanding of what those symptoms mean. For others, it may be an illogical response to fear about what they mean. But strokes won’t just go away on their own. Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. And sadly, every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke.
Knowledge is key and operating on that knowledge makes all the difference in life. So what should we be aware of when it comes to symptoms? Here’s some to quickly respond to:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, or in particular, one side of the body
- Trouble speaking or understanding; sudden confusion
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Don’t shake it off if it lasts only a few minutes. It could be indicative of a TIA, known as a transient ischemic attack or a mini stroke. TIAs may be a precursor to a stroke (15% of major strokes are preceded by TIAs) so don’t ignore them. Seek medical attention immediately if feeling any of the above symptoms. The acronym FAST is one way to remember how to recognize a stroke. Face drooping; Arm weakness; Speech difficulty; Time to call 9-1-1.
Seeing emergency treatment right away improves one’s recovery and outcomes. Administering a clot-dissolving drug sooner for ischemic (blood clot) strokes, helps increase better outcomes. Preventing strokes and reducing one’s stroke risks is highly possible by controlling blood pressure; eating a healthy diet low in saturated and trans fats; maintaining a healthy body weight; drinking alcohol moderately or not at all; being physically active; not smoking; and managing diabetes. Talk to your doctor for more information on risks, symptoms, and response to strokes.