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Is It Stroke? Be Prepared to Act F.A.S.T.

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Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. And while medical advances have significantly improved survival rates, quick action is vital.

“If you’re having a stroke, you need medical care quickly to reduce long-term effects and to prevent death, so learn to recognize the symptoms with the acronym BE FAST,” said Carrie Manley, stroke coordinator with Samaritan Health Services.

BE FAST

  • Balance – Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
  • Eyes – Is there sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes?
  • Face – Has your face started to droop, or is your smile lopsided?
  • Arm – When raising both arms, is one noticeably weaker than the other or does it drift downward?
  • Speech – Are your words suddenly slurred or difficult to understand?
  • Time – Call 9-1-1, if one or more of these symptoms is present. Also, note the time that symptoms started.

“When it comes to stroke, minutes can make the difference between life or death,” said Manley.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is suddenly limited either due to a blockage or rupture. When blood supply is stopped, oxygen cannot get to the brain and brain cells begin to die in minutes.

“That is why quickly calling 9-1-1 is so vital – to save the brain,” she said.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the nation’s fifth highest cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability. Calling 9-1-1 is still your best chance of survival, even during a pandemic.

“Although COVID-19 has changed many things in our lives, it has not changed the need to get to a hospital emergency room when having a heart attack, stroke, or other emergency,” said Manley. “Paramedics will alert hospital staff to have a team ready and waiting for you when you arrive.”

“If you think it’s a stroke, don’t doubt yourself; delaying a call for help can be deadly,” Manley said.

Learn more about stroke for the Samaritan Health Library. Read more about stroke and stroke care at Samaritan.