Acting FAST in Stroke

Posted by: BeneFIT Corporate Wellness
Date: September 22, 2014

You’re sitting with your co-workers having a casual conversation like every day at lunch. You briefly acknowledge feeling a bit unusual; heaviness in your arm and an odd sensation like your face just dropped, but you ignore it and continue to talk with your colleagues. “Carriage, snowball, chair,” you say. That was strange, that’s not at all what you wanted to say. You try again. This time the words aren’t even understandable. Everyone is looking at you, panic across their faces. You’re just as worried. Is anyone aware you’re having a stroke? Does anyone know to call 9-1-1 immediately?

Stroke is currently the fourth leading cause of death and the first cause of disability. It is not selective– stroke can affect anyone, and everyone has some risk. This year approximately 795,000 people will have a stroke, that’s someone every 40 seconds. Every four minutes, a stroke will take a life. There are an estimated seven million stroke survivors, on average 2/3 are left with disability. The statistics are scary, but 80% of strokes are preventable! Education and awareness can significantly impact the prevention and outcomes of stroke.

What is a stroke? A stroke is a “brain attack”; much like one has a heart attack when blood doesn’t flow to the heart muscle, a stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. The two main types of stroke are ischemic and hemorrhagic. An ischemic stroke comes from a clot– think of it as a clogged pipe stopping blood from getting to the brain tissue. Hemorrhagic strokes are the result of a break in a blood vessel– think of it as a burst pipe with blood now escaping into the brain. The majority of strokes, 87%, are ischemic. Hemorrhagic strokes, although less common, account for over 30% of stroke deaths. The symptoms of stroke, as identified by the National Stroke Association, are:

  • SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body.
  • SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.

When a stroke happens, two million brain cells die every minute—TIME IS BRAIN! Improving outcomes surrounding stroke is all about acting FAST! Therefore, it’s important to be aware of theFAST acronym to know the signs of stroke. If you encounter someone who may be having a stroke, will you notice? Will they notice if it’s happening to you?

That’s why it’s important to be aware of FAST. It may seem simple, just one four letter word, but it could change someone’s life and maybe yours.

Face – Ask the person to smile, does one side of the face droop?

Arms – Ask the person to raise their arms in front of their body, does one arm drift down?

Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, do they sound slurred or strange?

Time – Stroke is a medical emergency, call 9-1-1 immediately, and be sure to note the time the first symptom started

To learn more about stroke awareness, please contact us.

Disclaimer: The information presented is for your general knowledge and does not replace the advice of a physician. All medical inquiries regarding your health should be presented to a physician.

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