Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life

542367 38018 541 300x200 Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A LifeStroke is a leading cause of death in Americans each year with over 130,000 lives lost to it.  That’s why I’ve decided to talk to you about the FAST system of identifying a stroke in progress to try and save one of these lives. Here’s what you should know.  .  .

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked by a clot.  This is known as an ischemic stroke.  Another way a stroke can occur is from a blood vessel bursting and causing a hemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke. Often, smaller “warning” strokes, called TIA’s (transient ischemic attack), can occur several days before a larger stroke.

TIA’s can alert your doctor to the fact that medical intervention is necessary to prevent a larger, likely more damaging stroke, from occurring.   Signs of a TIA are similar to a stroke, but are milder and occur for a much shorter period of time. The following are some common symptoms:

Signs of a Stroke

Strokes come on SUDDENLY and so do their tell-tale signs.  Yet, some symptoms of an impending stroke may occur a few hours or days prior to a stroke occurring.  If you notice any of these signs in yourself, or someone near you, seek medical attention quickly. They include:

  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm, leg, especially on one side
  • Trouble speaking or understanding what is being said
  • Vision loss, blurriness, or visual field disturbance in one or both eyes
  • Problem with balance, walking, falling down, lack of coordination
  • Severe headache or dizziness

Now, keep in mind that the above symptoms do not always, automatically mean that a stroke has occurred or is about to occur.  Some of these symptoms can be indicators of other medical conditions as well.  The best way to identify a stroke is to know the National Stroke Association’s FAST system to help you quickly identify a stroke in progress.

If you, or someone around you, starts to exhibit the following signs don’t try to guess if it is a warning TIA or a full blown stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately. It could save someone’s life and/or lessen permanent disability.

The FAST Signs of Stroke

F:   Ask the person to smile.  Does their face droop to one side?

A:  Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?

S:  Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.  For example:  The tree fell down.  Is their speech slurred or do they have trouble speaking, forming words?

T:  Time – if you observe any of the above positive signs of stroke, call 9-1-1- immediately. Write down the time you first saw these symptoms.  If specific clot-busting medication (tPA – Activase) is given within 3 hours, it can help reduce long-term, damaging effects and/or disability.

Know the Risk Factors

Certain medical conditions increase the risk for stroke occurring.  They include:

  • Hypertension
  • High LDL (bad) cholesterol
  • Smoker
  • Drink heavily
  • Other heart disease (especially atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat)
  • Sickle cell disease (African-Americans) – a blood disorder where clots can occur

How To Avoid a Stroke

My patients know I prefer to prevent conditions from occurring rather than try to treat them once they’ve happened.  Strokes can also be prevented, and/or the damage/disability from them lessened.  All it takes is a little effort in your lifestyle to guard against them.  This includes:

  • Quit smoking and stay away from second hand smoke
  • Maintain a normal weight for normal blood pressure and blood sugar
  • Exercise regularly to keep weight, blood pressure, blood sugar normal
  • Drink half your weight in water each day.  Dehydration can thicken blood which can clot
  • Maintain healthy cholesterol levels with a diet of 0 trans fats, added Omega-3 fats
  • Add lipid lowering medications if your doctor has recommended them
  • Get a physical exam once a year, or sooner if symptoms warrant

I tell my patients never to second guess, or ignore, any symptoms in which their vision, speech, hearing, thinking, balance, ability to walk, changes – even if it seems subtle. Even if you call the EMS, or get yourself, or someone else, to an emergency room, and it turns out not to be a stroke or TIA, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Remember, TIME is the critical factor in recovering successfully from a stroke or TIA.

Stay Well,
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Natural Health News 

Stroke Signs and Symptoms, http://www.heart.org/idc/groups/heart-public/@wcm/@hcm/documents/downloadable/ucm_300317.pdf

Stroke Facts and Statistics http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm

image credit: buzzle.com

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  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life
  • wp socializer sprite mask 32px Stroke Warning Signs – The FAST Way to Save A Life

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