BE FAST: How to Recognize a Stroke and Take Action
May 5, 2023
By Dr. Elizabeth Franco, Stroke Medical Director
May is recognized as National Stroke Awareness Month. It’s the perfect time to learn about stroke, the signs and symptoms to look out for, and what you can start doing now to prevent a stroke in the future.
What is a stroke?
There are two different types of strokes: Ischemic and Hemorrhagic. When blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels from getting to the brain, this is called an Ischemic stroke. This is the most common type of stroke. Without blood flow, the brain cells in that area begin to die due to lack of oxygen and nutrients. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an artery in the brain leaks or ruptures, putting pressure on the brain cells causing them to die.
A TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack), sometimes referred to as a “mini stroke” is often a warning sign of a stroke that could occur in the near future. TIA’s occur when the blood flow is blocked to the brain for a short period of time, usually less than 24 hours. Symptoms of TIA are the same as a stroke and should be taken just as serious. A medical work up is necessary to check your stroke risk factors.
What are symptoms of a stroke?
Strokes are serious. When stroke symptoms are noticed it is important to act immediately, because every second counts. BE FAST is an acronym used to describe the signs and symptoms of a stroke.
Balance- with a stroke, someone may experience loss of balance, trouble walking, dizziness, or lack of coordination.
Eyes- during a stroke, someone may have sudden loss of vision, or trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
Face- facial droop can occur during a stroke. If you or someone you know is experiencing signs of stroke, ask the question, “Can you smile?” to identify if there is facial droop.
Arms- a stroke can cause arm weakness, usually only on one side of the body.
Speech- speech can be impacted by stroke, look for slurred or strange speech of simple phrases.
Time- if you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away. Time lost is brain lost, every minute counts when it comes to a stroke.
What can you do to prevent stroke?
Strokes are preventable with simple lifestyle changes and visits to your primary care provider. Staying on top of your annual health checkups is critical to maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Besides controlling your blood pressure and checking cholesterol, it is also important to manage blood sugar levels, especially if you are diabetic. Other preventative measures when it comes to a stroke include:
- Choose healthy foods and drinks.
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Get regular physical activity.
- Avoid smoking.
- Limit alcohol intake.
Strokes are a health risk for many Americans, and the best way to stay safe is to learn the warning signs. During your next visit with your primary care provider, ask about your risk of a stroke and how you can better prevent a stroke in the future.
Sumner Regional Medical Center is accredited by The Joint Commission and features a Primary Stroke Center and Level III Trauma Center. For more information about stroke care at Sumner Regional Medical Center, visit MySumnerMedical.com/Stroke