Submitted by Wendy Chirieleison, MS Ed
Community Health Educator
Do You Know The Signs Of A Stroke? Think F.A.S.T.!
May is American Stroke Month, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association’s annual campaign to increase awareness of warning signs, and what to do should you or someone you know have a stroke.
Stroke is the number four cause of death and leading cause of disability in the U.S. Many Americans do not think of stroke as a major health concern, even though every forty seconds someone in America has a stroke. The damaging effects of a stroke may be prevented if you know how to act upon the warning signs. Thinking F.A.S.T. can mean the difference between recovery and disability, or even death!
A stroke happens when a blood vessel is blocked or bursts and blood flow to the brain is stopped. Within just a few minutes of a stroke, brain cells begin to die. The most common sign of stroke is sudden weakness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body.
Other warning signs include:
- Sudden numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
THINK F.A.S.T. AND ACT F.A.S.T.
F.A.S.T. is an acronym used to help people recognize and remember the common stroke symptoms:
F = FACE
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face or mouth droop?
A = ARM
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
S = SPEECH
Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, such as ‘the sky is blue.’
Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TIME
If you observe any of these signs, it is time to Call 911!
- Know your numbers – Check your blood pressure regularly and talk to your doctor about your progress.
- Maintain a healthy weight – Get plenty of exercise and eat a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, while limiting salt and foods high in saturated fat and cholesterol.
- Keep diabetes under control with a proper diet and medication if necessary.
- Talk to your doctor before making any diet and/or exercise changes.
- Quit smoking – Need help? Call the NYS Smokers’ Quitline at 1-866-NY-QUITS or visit nysmokefree.com
- Keep your total cholesterol below 200.
- Limit your alcohol intake.
REMEMBER…A stroke is mostly preventable and treatable. Knowing the risks and thinking F.A.S.T are important, but taking steps to prevent a stroke are just as important.
For more information, visit strokeassociation.org, contact your healthcare provider or HealthLink Littauer at 736-1120. You can e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, see our website at nlh.org, or visit our NEW wellness center at 2 Colonial Court in downtown Johnstown, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. We’re your community health & wellness service of Nathan Littauer Hospital and Nursing Home.