When it Comes to a Stroke, Think F.A.S.T.

Stroke
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By Dr. Timothy Parsons
Chief of Neurology, Hospital of Central Connecticut

If you or a loved one had a stroke, would you know what to do?

May is Stroke Awareness Month and it’s a good time to learn more about the signs, symptoms and treatments for stroke. The more you know, the faster you can respond, and the more likely you are to minimize any long-term effects.

A stroke is an interruption of blood flow to the brain. This happens when a blood vessel becomes blocked by a clot or bursts. The brain suffers damage from a lack of necessary oxygen and nutrients. The end result could be disability or, in the worst case scenario, death.

So what are the signs and signals of a stroke? Weakness or numbness in the face or limbs is common, especially on one side of the body. A sudden confusion could be a sign of stroke. Difficulty speaking or a sudden change in vision are also signs of a stroke. Other symptoms include sudden dizziness or a loss of coordination or balance. Keep in mind, the symptoms can be brief and subtle. It’s important not to minimize the signs. Seek treatment quickly, as even a minor symptom can be a predictor of something more serious to come.

An easy way to keep stroke awareness top of mind is to remember the F.A.S.T. test. The F.A.S.T. test is a simple assessment if you think a loved one is having a stroke.

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. A face droop is an indicator of stroke.
  • Arms: When raising both arms, does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Can the person repeat a sentence and be understood? Are words slurred?
  • Time: Time is of the essence! Call 911 or get to the hospital quickly.

The Hospital of Central Connecticut Stroke Center provides emergency stroke treatments at both the New Britain and Bradley Memorial campuses. Stroke patients can expect a coordination of rehabilitation services, which include physical, occupational and speech therapy. Nutrition services and a variety of hospital wellness programs also support patients making lifestyle changes.

For patients suffering from an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a clot to the brain, The Hospital of Central Connecticut uses advanced image processing technology known as RAPID CT Perfusion, which can pinpoint areas of damage and provide important information for physicians. This technology benefits the patient by providing vital data for maximizing the best possible outcome.

Strokes do not hurt. A common reflex is to try to wait it out until symptoms pass, but it’s imperative to act quickly. People who are treated earlier recover better. Do the F.A.S.T. test, and don’t ignore the signs of a stroke.

Dr. Timothy Parsons is the chief of neurology at The Hospital of Central Connecticut. To learn more, click here.

 


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