|To Prevent Stroke Damage, Think 'FAST'
USA Weekend Magazine, May 20, 2007
by Susan T. Lennon
A stroke is a "brain attack" that happens when blood flow is interrupted. "It's the third leading cause of death, but 40% of Americans can't name a single warning sign," says Dawn Kleindorfer, M.D., associate professor of neurology at the University of Cincinnati. "And most people don't know that it's treatable, if you catch it early."
To help people act quickly, she and a group of researchers determined the top three symptoms, combined them with the most important action step and came up with the FAST approach to stroke awareness.
The researchers set out to educate communities in Cincinnati and Atlanta by teaching FAST to beauticians, who in turn taught their customers. Not only did FAST improve knowledge, but two stylists also saw the symptoms in clients and urged them to get lifesaving help.
"It's so important to realize that rapid treatment can sometimes reverse stroke, break up clots and turn it all around -- but you have to get to a hospital right away," says Kleindorfer, who presented the findings at the American Stroke Association conference in February.
How much at risk are you? The top three risk factors for stroke: high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes.
Memory trick is FAST
It's a myth that strokes only hit the elderly: 25% are in people younger than 65. If you think you or someone you're with might be having a stroke, use this checklist, fast.
Face. Is it numb? Does the smile suddenly sag or droop on one side?
Arm. Is one arm weak? Can both be raised easily?
Speech. Is a simple sentence like, "The sky is blue," slurred or jumbled?
Time. Call 911, even if there's an improvement in condition.