BE FAST: Stroke Awareness Month Emphasizes Stroke Recognition Guidelines

To recognize a stroke and get immediate treatment that can halt the disabling effects, BE FAST.

Seeking immediate treatment is crucial when it comes to reducing the negative effects of stroke.

To highlight National Stroke Awareness Month during the month of May, Community Memorial Health System is sharing the stroke recognition guidelines everyone needs to know.  It’s critical to be able to tell right away when a friend or loved one might be having a stroke and get that person to the hospital immediately for treatment.  Every minute is crucial for the best outcome.

“When you’re having a stroke, it’s not your final destiny,” said Stephanie Lara-Jenkins, RN, BA, CMHS Stroke Coordinator.  “We have rescue treatments that can change or alter your outcome.  There is hope now if you come to us fast.”

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures.  When this happens, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes.  This can cause temporary or permanent brain damage, or death.  Medical professionals today are seeing younger and younger stroke victims.  Strokes are also more common in women than in men.

The new guidelines for stroke recognition will help you know what to do if you, a friend, or loved one is having a stroke.  Just remember: BE FAST.  BE FAST is an acronym to help you quickly recognize common signs of a stroke.

If you know someone who is at risk for a stroke, write down the BE FAST tips and and find a convenient place to save them.  Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of stroke, and share your knowledge with friends and loved ones!

BE FAST:

BALANCE: Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?

EYES: Is there sudden blurred or double vision, or sudden, persistent vision trouble?

FACE: Is one or both sides of the person’s face drooping or numb?  Ask the person to smile.  Is their smile uneven or lopsided?

ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one side drift downward? Is there weakness or numbness on one side?

SPEECH: Does the person have slurred or garbled speech?  Are they hard to understand?  Can they repeat simple phrases?

TIME: If the person experiences the sudden onset of any of these symptoms, call 911 for immediate medical attention.  Getting the person to the hospital as quickly and as safely as possible is crucial so treatment to possibly stop the stroke in progress and hopefully reduce disability can begin right away.

“Community Memorial Hospital considers a stroke to be a cerebral vascular emergency in need of quick rescue efforts and can treat stroke patients with IV medication that dissolves clots up to 4.5 hours after the onset of symptoms,” said Lara-Jenkins.  “After that period of time and up to 24 hours post symptoms, a stroke patient might be a candidate for surgical intervention to pull the clot our of the brain using a catheter, but only for certain kinds of strokes.”  This is why it’s so important to BE FAST!

For more information on stroke prevention, recognition, and intervention, visit the American Stroke Association.