If you think you may be having a stroke, you have to move FAST.
FAST is a handy acronym developed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health to remind people of the warning signs of a stroke. Remember:
- Face: Does the face look uneven?
- Arm: Is one arm or leg weak suddenly?
- Speech: Does speech sound strange?
- Time: It’s time to call 911.
It’s critical to go to the emergency room as soon as possible after the onset of stroke symptoms. If the stroke is being caused by a blood clot, the ER team can administer TpA, which is more commonly known as the clot-busting drug. If given within three hours of the stroke, TpA has been very successful in dissolving stroke-causing clots and restoring blood flow, thereby improving the chances for recovery.
Strokes come on suddenly and can be debilitating or deadly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds – and someone dies every three to four minutes. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in our country.
Those at the greatest risk of a stroke suffer from high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol or diabetes. Additional risk factors include inactivity, cigarette smoking and one’s family history.
The good news about these factors? Simple lifestyle changes, such as eating a balanced diet, exercising and stopping smoking, can reduce the risk of stroke.