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How a F.A.S.T. Reaction Can Save a Life

May 19, 2016, 13:04 PM
Strokes strike quickly and, often, seemingly out of nowhere. Knowing the signs of strokes and reacting quickly may help minimize the long-term damage strokes can inflict.

stroke awarenessA stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (ruptures). Once that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it and brain cells die, according to the American Stroke Association. They recommend a F.A.S.T. reaction approach.

F.A.S.T. is a simple acronym to remember the sudden signs of a stroke, and will enable a quicker outreach to emergency personnel.
F Face Drooping – If one side of the face droops or feels numb, ask the person to smile to see if his or her smile is uneven.
A Arm Weakness – If one of the person’s arms feels weak or numb, ask the person to raise both arms to see if one arm drifts downward.
S Speech Difficulty – If the person’s speech is slurred or difficult to understand OR if they are unable to speak, ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, such as “The sky is blue,” to see if they repeat it correctly.
T Time to call 9-1-1 – If the person shows any of the above symptoms, call 9-1-1 to get the person to a hospital immediately, even if the symptoms subside. Be sure to check the time so you’re aware of when the first symptoms presented.

Other symptoms of strokes include sudden:
Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, particularly on one side of the body.
Confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech.
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
Severe headache with no known cause.

Should you or someone you are with experience these symptoms, contact emergency services immediately. GRMC’s emergency department is equipped to diagnose individuals suffering from a stroke or a recent stroke; a robotic stroke unit in the GRMC emergency department connects with neurologists at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.

This connection allows tests to be run that enable medical staff to make an informed decision on the status of the stroke and if medication is necessary or if the symptoms are severe enough that the patient should be referred to a higher level trauma center.  GRMC also provides additional necessary rehabilitation, including physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

To find out more about occupational therapy at GRMC, please call 641-236-2985; physical therapy at 641-236-2364; and speech therapy at 419-787-5788.