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"FAST" Action is Vital Upon Onset of a Stroke

GRAPHIC: The symptoms of a stroke can be easily remembered with the acronym "FAST." Image courtesy American Heart Association.
GRAPHIC: The symptoms of a stroke can be easily remembered with the acronym "FAST." Image courtesy American Heart Association.
May 29, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – National Stroke Awareness Month is quickly coming to a close, but supporters hope that the lessons learned will last long beyond the end of May.

Patty Clements, senior communications director for the American Heart Association, says brain damage can mount with each passing minute.

So it's vital, she says, to know the warning signs, which can easily be remembered with the acronym FAST.

"F is for face,” she explains. “Is your face drooping or feeling numb? A is for arm weakness. S is for speech difficulty.

“So, if you have any one of these symptoms, T – it is time to call 911."

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in Illinois, claiming about 5,000 lives per year.

Clements says there are a number of ways a person can reduce his or her risk for stroke, including quitting smoking, getting regular exercise and eating a healthy, well-balanced diet.

All of these require some lifestyle changes, but they help to reduce high blood pressure, which she says is the number one controllable risk factor.

"So, if you lowered your top number by 10 or that bottom number by five, you can cut your risk of stroke in half,” Clements explains. “So, that is the number one thing to look at – go get a blood pressure check.

“Any pharmacy is going to have a free blood pressure cuff at this point. Check it out."

It's estimated that a stroke occurs somewhere in the United States every 40 seconds.





Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL