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Know the Symptoms of Stroke – F.A.S.T.

Act F.A.S.T. if  STROKE symptoms occur—minutes count

Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke (cdc.gov/stroke/facts, 2020). A stroke can be called a “brain attack”. It happens when the flow of blood to the brain is disrupted; brain cells start to die quickly because they can’t get oxygen.

There are two types of stroke each requires fast detection and treatment. An ischemic stroke happens when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain. Fatty deposits called plaque can also cause blockages by building up in the blood vessels. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Blood builds up and damages surrounding brain tissue. The part of the brain affected becomes damaged leaving the person with a disability or sometimes death.

Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. More than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over have a disability in movement such as walking or hand and arm movement. (cdc.gov/stroke/facts, 2020).

Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms. Stroke care starts with EMS.

  • Sudden numbnessor weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden vision changes in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headachewith no known cause.
  • Remember the word F.A.S.T and Dial 9-1-1

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away. Note the time when any symptoms first appear.  This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Some risk factors, are out of our control, like stroke if you are over 65 years of age, are African American, Hispanic, or Asian, have a family history of stroke or had a previous stroke or “mini stroke” which is also called a TIA. However, changing just a few daily habits can lower your risk for stroke. Combining a healthy diet, healthy blood pressure, regular physical activity, and quitting tobacco can make a difference!

(Mass.gov/service-details/lower-your-risk-for-stroke, 2020)