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Minnesotans Told to Think "FAST" When It Comes to Stroke

PHOTO: A diagram of an ischemic stroke. Courtesy of the American Heart Association of Minnesota.
PHOTO: A diagram of an ischemic stroke. Courtesy of the American Heart Association of Minnesota.
October 29, 2012

ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesotans are being reminded that time is of the essence on this World Stroke Day.

Justin Bell, government relations director for the American Heart Association, says a stroke is a vascular event that causes brain damage, which can become worse with each passing second.

"It can either be a blood clot or a blood hemorrhage and when it shows up, you have a very time-sensitive window to try to take care of it. So, it's a time-critical event where, when you have a stroke you have a golden window of opportunity to try to seek medical attention: so it's important that you act quickly."

Since time is so critical when it comes to stroke, Bell says people should remember the acronym FAST:

"So, if you check out someone's Face, Arms or Speech, and they're altered in any way, so, speech is slurred, or you see part of their face drooping a little bit, or they're not able to move one of their arms in the same way as the other and they seem disoriented. Then, the last letter of the acronym, 'T,' is for 'Time.' That means time is of the essence, and you want to call 911 immediately."

Stroke is currently the third-leading cause of death in Minnesota, but Bell says a major effort is underway to change that.

"Experts from across the state are designing and developing an acute stroke system of care that should speed up the way that we treat stroke, all across the state and in all corners of the state, where we can start to standardize and coordinate everything from 911 dispatch to EMS triage and transport, to what happens in emergency rooms."

Risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, tobacco use, high cholesterol and obesity.

More information is at A stroke video PSA is at

John Michaelson, Public News Service - MN