Understanding the Signs of Stroke with the FAST Method

March 4, 2019

Most of us know someone who has suffered a stroke. The effects of this common health event can turn out to be surmountable, devastating, or anything in between. Although they can happen at any age, strokes pose significantly increased risk to seniors. There are some steps you can take to reduce your risk factors for stroke, such as maintaining good heart-health habits, but when a stroke does occur, swift treatment is imperative.

According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), stroke victims who arrive at the emergency room within three hours of their first stroke symptoms have a significantly increased chance of recovering with fewer disabilities. A stroke involves the sudden death of brain cells, usually on one side of the brain or another, so it almost always disproportionately affects one side of the body (in terms of feeling and motor skills). According to the American Stroke Association (ASA), 93% of respondents to one survey knew that numbness on one side of the body was a symptom of stroke. However, only 38% were educated about all major stroke symptoms and knew to call 9-1-1 if they suspected that they or someone they knew was experiencing any of those symptoms.

In addition to habits such as maintaining a healthy diet and keeping one’s cholesterol in check, one of the most important aspects of a proactive approach to stroke prevention is educating oneself about the symptoms and warning signs. The American Stroke Association recommends the “FAST test” for determining if you or someone you know has had a stroke:

  • Face: When the person smiles or otherwise makes an expression that should engage their entire face, does it? One of the tell-tale signs of a stroke is drooping on half of the person’s face.
  • Arms: When the person tries to lift both arms, is he or she able to? If the answer is no, they might have had a stroke.
  • Speech: Slurred speech is one of the main signs of a stroke. If you or someone you know is slurring their speech or otherwise speaking strangely, you may be dealing with the effects of a stroke. Even if it turns out to be a sign of something else, such as age-related cognitive decline, medical attention can only be a positive step.
  • Time: If you observe or experience any of these symptoms—even if you’re only somewhat suspicious that you do—call 9-1-1 immediately. A stroke is a serious emergency, and time is of the essence. Until emergency services arrive, all you can do for someone having a stroke is make sure they’re in a comfortable, safe position, speak in a calm, reassuring voice, and follow the instructions of the 9-1-1 operator.

Here at Corso Atlanta, we offer truly independent and assisted senior living options. In addition to the support of a community, our residents also have access to several health, wellness, and social activities. If you’re interested in learning more about assisted living, independent living, memory care, or any of the many programs, activities, and facilities we offer, please contact Corso Atlanta for more information. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook for updates and to check back often for new blogs.

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