Learn F-A-S-T stroke symptoms: Save a Life.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die in minutes. Statistics according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC)are scary.
- In leading causes of U.S. death, stroke used to rank fourth. Now it’s fifth.
- Someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Every 4 minutes, someone dies of stroke.2
- Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke. About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes.
- About 185,000 strokes—nearly 1 of 4—are in people who have had a previous stroke.
- About 87% of all stroke are labeled “ischemic” in which blood flow to the brain is blocked.
- Stroke costs the United States an estimated $34 billion each year. This total includes the cost of aftercare as in: health care services, medicines to treat stroke, and missed days of work.
- Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability.Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over
The higher survival rates are largely due to medical treatment advances. The right care — done the right away — can save both lives and quality of life.
Everything about a stroke demands speed. The diagnosis must be prompt, and the treatment must be immediate. For every minute a stroke is untreated, a person can lose around 1.9 million neurons, according to the National Stroke Association.
“We know ‘time is brain,’” says Carolyn Brockington, MD, a neurologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. “That means that the longer the brain isn’t getting enough blood flow, the more likely there’s going to be permanent injury.”
In a 2010 study of more than 3,600 stroke patients, researchers found that the odds of a favorable outcome increased as the time between stroke onset and medical treatment decreased.
F-A-S-T: What Does It Stand For?
Perhaps no acronym is more fitting for stroke detection and treatment than F-A-S-T. This acronym can help remind you to “act fast” when a stroke is happening—to you, a loved one, or even a stranger on the street.
- F is for Face: A classic stroke symptom is a drooping face, usually only affecting one side. The person may be unable to smile or show other facial expressions as usual.
- A is for Arms: Weakness in one or both arms may indicate a stroke. If the person is drooping an arm or unable to lift it, it may be a stroke.
- S is for Speech: Someone having a stroke may have garbled speech that almost sounds like they’re intoxicated. They may struggle to communicate, or to understand your words. You can ask the person to repeat a simple phrase; if they are unable to repeat it clearly, they might be having a stroke.
- T is for Time: Once you’ve noticed drooping face, weak arms, and garbled speech, it’s time to take action quickly. “Time is so important with the brain so we want people to know: dial 911,” says Dr. Brockington. “That means it’s an emergency situation [and] they’ll be taken to the closest stroke center for rapid treatment.”
Of course, the best treatment for stroke is preventing one from happening in the first place. That mean taking control of your everyday choices. You can start anytime to make good lifestyle choices that keep your blood vessels strong and unclogged. Take control and do whatever you can every day to lead a healthy lifestyle.