A stroke is a medical emergency. The faster the person receives medical care, the better his or chances of recovery. But to get help fast, you must know what to look for.
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. As blood is essential to the survival of brain cells, it is imperative to restore the bloodstream as quickly as possible to minimize permanent damage. Sequelae vary from patient to patient and depend on the location where the blocking occurred in the brain and the extent of the damaged area.
As rapid medical intervention can make all the difference between full recovery and permanent severe sequelae (eg paralysis), it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke. The acronym F-A-S-T was created to help people take action as soon as possible:
F is for face: is it drooping? When a stroke occurs the muscles of the face start to droop, often only on one side.
A is for arms: can you raise them both? Often, the person can only raise one arm, because one side of the body becomes weak.
S is for speech: is it slurred or jumbled? The person may also have difficulty understanding what others are saying.
T is for time: time to call 9-1-1 right away! A stroke is a major medical emergency and the person needs specialized medical care as soon as possible. It is best not to drive the person to the hospital yourself. Paramedics are better equipped to transport the person safely and quickly, and will know which hospital in your area provides stroke care.
To learn more about stroke, visit the Heart & Stroke Foundation’s website.