Witnessing a health crisis can be frightening, especially if it involves a medical emergency, such as a stroke. But don’t worry, no one expects you to become a doctor overnight. Instead, there are four simple things to remember, so you can take action quickly.
Yogesh Paliwal, MD, and his team at Indus Cardiology are all about helping you and the people you love avoid serious and potentially life-threatening heart complications, including strokes. So in this blog, they explain how remembering the acronym “FAST” can help you recognize the signs of a stroke.
The dangers of strokes
There are different types of strokes, but they all involve blood supply to the brain. Without proper blood supply, the brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, which is a substance your brain cells need to survive.
The longer the brain goes without oxygen, the more damage the cells sustain. And, if they start to die, you can experience irreversible damage and life-threatening complications.
Because of this, swift action is key when a person has a stroke since restoring blood flow can sometimes limit or prevent damage to the brain.
It isn’t easy staying calm and collected during a medical emergency. However, remembering the acronym FAST can help. Why? Because each of the letters gives reminders of the most obvious signs of a stroke and how to take action.
F: Facial drooping
A stroke often causes sudden numbness or paralysis on one side of the body. Check your loved one’s face for signs of drooping on one side. Can’t tell? Try asking them to smile to see if they can use their entire mouth.
A: Arm weakness
In addition to facial drooping, weakness, and numbness can also impact the arm or leg on one side of the body. Ask your loved one to lift both of their arms and see what happens. Can they do it? Does one drift back down?
S: Speech difficulty
Without enough oxygen, the brain can’t function properly, and that can directly impact a person’s thoughts and speech. Are you having problems understanding what they’re saying? Try asking them to repeat a simple statement, such as “the grass is green.”
T: Time to call 9-1-1
If your loved one shows any of these signs, make note of the time and get them to the hospital immediately — even if they seem better. Once medical personnel are on the scene, tell them when the symptoms started.
The longer they go without treatment, the higher the risk of permanent damage and disability. That means time is of the essence.
Other signs of stroke
Besides causing issues with facial movements, arm function, and speaking, a stroke can cause other symptoms, such as the following:
- Blurred or double vision
- Vertigo or dizziness
- Loss of coordination
- Neck stiffness
- Sudden and severe headache
- Loss of consciousness
- Agitation, confusion, or personality changes
- Memory loss
Strokes can also cause coma and death. However, early action and timely medical interventions have reduced the number of stroke deaths in the United States in recent years.
Strokes can happen for many reasons, many of which can be beyond your control. However, you can take steps to reduce your risk of suffering this medical emergency by:
- Eating a healthy diet
- Engaging in regular exercise
- Getting plenty of quality sleep
- Avoiding risky activities, such as smoking, using recreational drugs, and misusing alcohol
- Managing health conditions, such as heart disease, hypertension, and high cholesterol
A cardiology consultation and preventive cardiology plan can also help detect risky health conditions early, even before symptoms arise.
Could you be at risk for stroke? Contact Indus Cardiology in Pomona, Montclair, or West Covina, California, to check your heart health today.