Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The CDC has recorded many statistics about strokes; for example, each year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, and nearly 130,000 of those stroke victims die. Don’t let the statistics scare you. Learn the FAST stroke acronym, and you’ll have a better chance of surviving a stroke and minimizing any permanent damage.
The Acronym Decoded
The American Stroke Association teaches the FAST stroke acronym, which stands for three symptoms and an action. Let’s look at the four letters, what they stand for, and what you should do if you suspect that you or another person could be having a stroke.
- F: Face drooping. Is one side of the person’s face drooping? Ask her to smile, to see if the smile is uneven.
- A: Arm weakness. Is one of the person’s arms weak? Ask her to lift both of her arms. Does one arm drift lower than the other one?
- S: Speech difficulty. Is her speech slurred, or is it difficult to talk? Ask her to repeat a simple sentence.
- T: Time to call 911. Time is of the essence in the case of a stroke. Even if the symptoms subside, call 911. Make a note of when the symptoms first appeared so you can relay that information to the EMTs and the hospital emergency room staff.
The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute is even more emphatic about the need to call 911: “Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room. During a stroke, every minute counts.” If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, call 911 or press the button on your personal medical alert system immediately. Don’t hesitate; time is of the essence.
Reading this article means that you’re taking an active interest in your health, and you’ll likely want to learn more. Keep taking steps toward a healthy lifestyle, so you can maintain your independence, live life to the fullest, and put your loved ones’ minds at ease. Learning the FAST stroke acronym means you’ll know exactly what to do in the event of a stroke; when all pandemonium breaks loose, you’ll be able to bring order out of chaos without giving it a second thought. Your response will be swift and automatic, and the life you save might be your own or that of a loved one.