BE FAST: Seconds matter when stroke strikes

Mouhammad Jumaa, MD, ProMedica Stroke Network

        According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke.              
        May is Stroke Awareness Month, which presents an opportunity to educate and inform about the signs and symptoms of a stroke.
        A stroke occurs when blood vessels that carry blood to the brain from the heart are either blocked or burst, causing a leak. The brain needs a constant supply of blood, which carries oxygen and nutrients it needs to function. When a stroke occurs, the blood supply is cut off to the blocked or leaking part of the brain, causing the tissue to die.
        Stroke risk increases with age, but strokes can happen at any age. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke because the sooner someone gets medical attention, the better the chances of recovery are. The more time that passes, the chance of disability, brain injury and death increases.
        Using the BE FAST acronym can help identify the warning signs of a stroke.
        • Balance difficulties and dizziness.
        • Eyesight changes (blurry or double vision).
        • Face drooping or numbness (the smile may look uneven).
        • Arm weakness (when a person lifts both arms at once, one of them may drift downward).
        • Speech difficulty or trouble repeating a sentence.
        • Time to call 911. Call 911 immediately and make note of when the symptoms first appeared.
        With every minute being critical, do not drive to the hospital. Call 911 immediately and let the dispatcher know someone is having stroke symptoms. Do not give the person medication, food or any type of drink – this can cause an increase in choking.
        Just remember to BE FAST with any signs of stroke!
        Mouhammad Jumaa, MD, is a neurointerventionalist, ProMedica Stroke Network.


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