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Identify a Stroke – F.A.S.T.

Most people know someone who has had a stroke, but do you know what a stroke is and how important it is to get a person to hospital as soon after the episode as possible to prevent further impact of brain damage.

There are three types of strokes; one caused by the lack of blood flow to an area of the brain like a narrowed artery due to cholesterol build up, another that is caused by a blockage in one of the vessels suppling blood to an area of the brain, like when a clot blocks the vessel completely, obstructing blood flow, and the third is due to a bleed into the brain matter like when a vessel ruptures and haemorrhage then puts pressure on the brain tissue.

In all three of these cases, it is of utmost importance to get a patient to hospital so that they may undergo definitive care as soon as possible after the onset.

Many people experience the symptoms of a stroke but they may downplay the seriousness of these symptoms and this may result in the delay in treatment. It is important to know the risk factors associated with stroke, and to know the symptoms which to look for should someone around you be suffering a stroke.

Stroke FAST

Risk factors seem to be higher in women around the age of 55, but general risk factors include high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, high cholesterol levels, alcohol abuse, cigarette smoking, a poor diet high in fats, drug use and lack of physical exercise.

All of these factors appear to be preventable, so why do so many patients suffer a stroke?

There is no excuse for not being motivated to have yourself checked. At the very least, have a blood pressure and cholesterol level check at your local clinic. This will give you an indication as to whether you need to change your lifestyle in an effort to prevent a stroke in future.

What do you do if you suspect that someone may be having a stroke? The symptoms may range from lightheaded and dizziness, to nausea to sudden onset of a severe and debilitating headache (but remember that people suffering from migraines will experience this often too), and other behaviour changing symptoms. Should you see the change in someone where they suddenly become confused or cannot control normal body movements with or without the above symptoms, you’ll need to act F.A.S.T.

  • Check the persons F-ace. Make them smile, and check whether their smile is symmetrical on both sides of the face. Should it not be, they could be suffering a stroke.
  • Check their A-rms. Tell them to close their eyes and raise both arms straight out in front of them. If one of their arms seems to drift downwards, they could be suffering a stroke.
  • Check their S-peech. If they are unable to construct a simple sentence or their speech is slurred, they could be suffering a stroke.
  • Should there be any irregularities in the above, its T-ime to call for an ambulance immediately. Remember 084 124, and get the emergency personnel on their way to you soon. While they are en route, you can seek medical advice on what to do for a patient such as stopping bleeding if they have had a fall after suffering the stroke.

Make sure that you and your loved ones know the risks factors – change your lifestyle to prevent illness in your future.

Also read:

The Stroke Chain of Survival

Stroke treatment begins with ER24

Mediclinic’s new multidisciplinary approach to stroke care

Identify a Stroke F.A.S.T.