There's a reason FAST is the acronym for how to spot a stroke. That's how quickly someone having a stroke needs immediate emergency care to prevent brain damage, permanent disability and even death. The American Stroke Association says FAST is one of the most powerful 4-letter words, and here's what it stands for:
F = Face drooping
A = Arm weakness
S = Speech difficulty
T = Time to call 911
Additional symptoms of stroke, which may appear separately or in combination with FAST signs, include SUDDEN:
- Confusion or problems speaking or understanding speech
- Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg — especially on one side of the body
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone else experiences any of the signs of stroke, call 911 immediately.
What is a stroke?
Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and the leading preventable cause of disability in the United States. Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and from the brain.
Stroke happens for two reasons:
- A clot obstructs the flow of blood to the brain (ischemic stroke)
- A blood vessel ruptures and prevents blood flow to the brain (hemorrhagic stroke)
A TIA, or transient ischemic attack, is a mini-stroke caused by a temporary clot.
When a region of the brain stops receiving blood, and therefore oxygen, the part of the body that region controls won't work as it should. Fast intervention is needed to clear the clot or repair the blood vessel so that blood flow can resume. You may have heard "time is brain," which means that the longer the brain is deprived of oxygen, the more damage and cell death will occur.
How to prevent stroke.
According to the American Stroke Association, 80 percent of strokes are preventable. Following the prevention tips below could help you avoid stroke, dementia and memory loss.
- Get high blood pressure under control — it's the No. 1 risk factor for stroke
- Stop smoking — another leading stroke risk factor
- Manage cholesterol and blood sugar levels (diabetes)
- Get to a healthy weight and maintain it
- Eat a nutritious diet full of fruits, veggies, fish and whole grains
- Get moving — physical activity improves blood flow to the brain
Always call 911 when you think someone is having a stroke.
For any medical emergency large or small, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.