You’ve probably heard the “Act FAST” phrase to remember the signs of a stroke. They stand for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. A more recent version is being used and should be followed instead, called “BE FAST.” It stands for Balance off/dizzy, Eyes, Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, and Time to call 911. Let’s talk about what a stroke is and how to recognize the signs so you or a loved one can get help fast.
The stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When brain cells are deprived of oxygen, they begin to die. Thus, the abilities controlled by those sections of the brain are lost. Side effects of a stroke range depending on the type and severity of the stroke, as well as the part of the brain that is affected. For instance, someone may have temporary weakness, while another stroke survivor may become permanently paralyzed on one side of the body. Statistics from the National Stroke Association reveal that 2/3 of stroke survivors have some sort of disability after the event.
There are two types of stroke: a hemorrhagic stroke and an ischemic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke is caused by a brain aneurysm that bursts or a weakened blood vessel that leaks. This may be the least common type of stroke, but if it happens, more often than not it results in death. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries blood to the brain becomes blocked by a blood clot. A transient ischemic attack (TIA) occurs much like an ischemic stroke, but blood flow is only temporarily blocked. Symptoms are similar to a stroke, but they tend to disappear and last less than 24 hours.
Know the symptoms of a stroke. Follow BE FAST:
B: Balance Off/Dizzy
An individual experiencing a stroke may suddenly lose their balance.
Is there sudden blurred vision or persistent vision issues?
F: Face Drooping
A sure sign of a stroke is one side of the face drooping. Ask the suspected stroke victim to smile. If one side droops, get immediate medical attention.
A: Arm Weakness
An individual may be having a stroke if, when asked to hold up both arms, only one can be held up because the other is too weak.
S: Speech Difficulty
An individual experiencing a stroke may have slurred speech or garbled, unintelligible words.
T: Time to Call 911
If you or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, you need to call 911 immediately. The quicker your arrival at the hospital, the better chances of your survival and recovery.
Remember, don’t ignore these symptoms; the sooner you get help, the better.