Act FAST at first signs of possible stroke

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The acronym FAST could help you identify that someone is having a stroke.

A stroke is sometimes called a brain attack and, like a heart attack, immediate medical attention will increase the chances for survival and recovery. Both men and women have strokes. If you see someone with the signs described below, call 911.

During a stroke, there is a disruption in blood flow to the brain. The person suffering a stroke might experience sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, leg or whole side of the body.

Many stroke victims become confused and have difficulty speaking. Severe headache is common. The person may have sudden dizziness and lack of coordination.
Think of acting FAST, which stands for face, arms, speech and time.

  • Face – Ask the person to smile. One side of the mouth might droop.
  • Arms – Ask them to raise both arms. One arm might sink down.
  • Speech – Ask them to repeat a simple phrase. Do they slur or have trouble remembering a few words?
  • Time – Make a note of what time these signs appeared and report this to the 911 operator.

Act fast. An ambulance crew can begin treatment on the way to the hospital, so do not drive the victim to the hospital yourself.

Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.

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