When It Comes to Strokes – ACT FAST!

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and according to the NSA (National Stroke Association) strokes kill more than 137,000 Americans annually. A stroke (or brain attack) occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is disrupted. Some of the general symptoms of a stroke include a weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body, as well as sudden vision changes, trouble speaking, or walking. You can read more about the many varied symptoms of a stroke here and stroke risk here. Your primary care physician is the best resource to talk about your risk factors for a stroke and what you can do to decrease those risks. Strokes can cause several types of disabilities and stroke patients may need to relearn skills and new ways to perform tasks. Any rehabilitation program will need to be individualized for the patient, but you can read about the general treatment components here.

Strokes can happen at any time to anyone. The stress of an emergency situation like this makes even the simplest tasks more difficult, so I encourage you to take a moment to plan for and practice what you would do in case of a possible stroke using NSA’s campaign Act FAST:

F- Face drooping. Ask the person to smile and check to see if their smile is uneven.
A – Arm weakness. Ask the person to lift both arms at the same time and check to see if one arm drifts downward.
S – Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and check to see if they can do it correctly.
T – Time to call 9-1-1. Even if the symptoms go away it’s important to call 9-1-1.

Knowing how to Act FAST can truly save lives.

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.