Stroke Experts at NHRMC Say Act F.A.S.T.

May 07, 2012

Act F.A.S.T.! That’s what New Hanover Regional Medical Center’s stroke experts are advising during National Stroke Awareness Month in May and throughout the year.

“It’s imperative people recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and take quick action by calling 911 immediately if they observe these signs,” said Claire Corbett, NHRMC stroke programs manager. “The faster treatment can be administered, the less chance there is for long-term disability.”

F.A.S.T., an acronym developed by the American Stroke Association, can be used to teach people the signs and symptoms of stroke, while reminding them to seek medical treatment fast:
Face - Does one side of the face droop?
Arms - Does one arm drift downward when raising both arms?
Speech - Is there an inability to speak? Are words slurred and/or incoherent?
Time - Call 911 if any of these are signs are observed.

A stroke occurs when there is a sudden interruption or reduction in blood flow to the brain, depriving it of oxygen and nutrients. When this happens, brain cells begin to die, and brain damage is possible.

Signs and symptoms of stroke usually begin suddenly and may include any of the following: numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion; difficulty speaking; sudden headache or visual loss; and/or difficulty walking, or loss of balance and coordination.

For strokes resulting from blood clots, or ischemic strokes, a “clot-busting” drug called tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, may be used. Any delay from symptom onset to hospital arrival, however, may preclude certain individuals from receiving this treatment. For strokes resulting from leaky or ruptured vessels, or hemorrhagic stroke, surgical repair is also possible.

There are many risk factors for stroke, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, previous stroke, obesity, smoking and alcohol use. Factors like age, gender, ethnicity and family history also play a role.

Click here to take an online stroke risk assessment to discover more about your risk of stroke.