Act FAST When Responding to a Stroke

Act FAST When Responding to a Stroke

Time matters when responding to a stroke. Learn the warning signs and why it’s important to act FAST.

As the fifth leading cause of death and number one cause of disability in the United States, strokes are a major health concern. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors for a stroke are critically important, as the longer someone suffers a stroke without treatment, the higher the likelihood of disability or death. That’s why when it comes to responding to a stroke, time is of the essence.

A stroke occurs when there is a blood clot or hemorrhage in the brain. A recent study from the American Heart Association has revealed that for every 15-minute delay in delivering a clot-busting drug after a stroke, there are a variety of long-term implications. This is because returning healthy blood flow to the brain is essential to the survival of brain cells. When prompt treatment is given, brain cells can be saved and the likelihood of long-term disability and even death is decreased. Because of this, it’s extremely important to call 911 the moment you notice signs of a stroke in yourself or a loved one. 

The warning signs of a stroke can include:

  • Dizziness or lack of coordination
  • A sudden headache 
  • Slurred speech or difficulty understanding speech
  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Vision problems in one or both eyes 

The easy-to-remember acronym that medical professionals use to identify if an individual is suffering a stroke is FAST. FAST stands for: 

  • Face: Ask the loved one to smile. Notice if there is facial drooping on one side of the face.
  • Arm: Ask the loved one to raise their arms over their head. Does one of their arms appear weak or drift downwards? 
  • Speech: Speak to the loved one and identify if they’re slurring their words or having trouble understanding you.
  • Time: If these symptoms are present, call 911 right away. If you can, make a note of the time you noticed the first symptom. 

There are various factors that lead to the likelihood of a stroke, many of which have to do with age, sex, race, and family and personal medical history. However, there are also lifestyle factors to take into consideration when working to prevent a stroke. These risk factors include:

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Carotid or artery disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Poor diet
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • Peripheral artery disease
  • Coronary artery disease or heart failure
  • Alcohol and drug abuse

If you believe a loved one is at risk for a stroke, it’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor about strategies for lowering their risk. You may also want to consider the assistance of an in-home caregiver who can help you and a loved one manage risk factors at home. 

The expert caregivers at Hired Hands Homecare have been serving seniors and their families since 1994, providing outstanding in-home care services, dementia care, care management, and hospice support. To learn more about working with a highly trained caregiver in Petaluma and the nearby areas, contact us online or give us a call at 866-940-4343. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have or set up a free in-home consultation at any time. To learn about all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Service Area page.

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