How to Act F.A.S.T. to Treat Stroke

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. On average, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated. Stroke can happen to anyone—at any age, any time. That’s why everyone needs to know the warning signs.

Stroke is an EMERGENCY. Call 911 immediately if you suspect you or someone else is experiencing a stroke.

Act F.A.S.T. to Recognize Stroke Symptoms
The American Heart Association provides this easy-to-remember guideline for recognizing stroke in yourself or others, using the letters in the word fast.

Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred?
Time to call 911

The Value of Acting F.A.S.T.
If you’re having a stroke, it’s critical that you get medical attention right away. Early treatment leads to higher survival rates and lower disability rates. Thanks to recent advances in stroke diagnosis and treatments, survival rates have improved greatly over the last decade. 

Calling 911 lets first responders start treatment on someone experiencing stroke symptoms before arriving at the hospital.

Types of Stroke
The F.A.S.T. symptoms—face drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech—are symptoms of ischemic stroke, which accounts for about 87% of all strokes. The same symptoms often present themselves in the case of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or warning stroke, commonly referred to as a mini-stroke

Symptoms of posterior circulation stroke can be very different than the symptoms of the more common anterior circulation ischemic stroke. These symptoms may include:

  • Vertigo (a sensation like the room is spinning).
  • Imbalance or one-sided arm or leg weakness.
  • Slurred speech or difficulty in speech.
  • Double vision or other vision problems.
  • A headache.
  • Nausea and/or vomiting.

Regardless of which type of stroke you might be experiencing, it’s critical that you get medical attention right away. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death.

Men, Women, and Stroke
Men and women who have strokes often feel similar symptoms, such as face drooping, arm weakness, and speech difficulty. Other common signs for both women and men include problems seeing out of one or both eyes and balance or coordination problems.

Women can also experience:

  • General weakness.
  • Disorientation and confusion or memory problems.
  • Fatigue, nausea, or vomiting.

Some signs of stroke in women can be subtle enough to be missed or brushed off. That can lead to delays in getting time-sensitive, life-saving treatments.

MSA Can Help You Manage Your Stroke Risk or Recover from Stroke
The board-certified vascular surgeons at Muskegon Surgical Associates do much more than perform vascular surgery. They can help you manage the causes of stroke, including high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, and/or hardening of the arteries, to help you lower your risk of stroke. And if you’ve had a stroke, we can help with your recovery.  Contact us today for a consultation.

American Heart Association