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Act FAST: 4 Stroke Symptoms to Know When Every Second Counts

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If your partner, child, parent or friend has a stroke , will you recognize it? And, more importantly, will you know to get medical care immediately?

We hope that you never face this situation and that your family, friends and loved ones never experience a stroke. But it’s essential to be able to recognize stroke symptoms when you see them, and to know what to do when the unexpected occurs.

With this goal in mind, we want to empower you with important stroke information and one easy-to-remember acronym so that you’re ready to help save a life at a moment’s notice. 

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow is blocked to part of your brain (ischemic stroke) or a blood vessel suddenly bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). These events can cut off blood and oxygen supply to your brain and damage brain cells.

A stroke is a sudden medical emergency (this means you need to call 911 right away) that affects someone every 40 seconds in the United States, and is one of the leading causes of disability in our country. If a stroke is left untreated, or if care is delayed, long-term physical damage can occur.

Immediate Medical Care Reduces Harm From a Stroke

Strokes are often life-threatening, but it’s possible to survive them, especially when you get help quickly. 

“When someone you know is having a stroke, it’s crucial to call 911 right away. Getting your loved one lifesaving medical care for a stroke increases their chances of survival and reduces long-term harm from the stroke, such as difficulty walking, speaking or eating,” says Dr. Jose Barquin Jr., Emergency Physician at AdventHealth North Pinellas.

In a Stroke Emergency, Act FAST to Save a Life

To identify the signs and symptoms of a stroke, remember the acronym FAST, which stands for:

  • Face: Does one side of the person’s face droop? Can they smile?
  • Arms: Is one or both arms weak, or drifting downward? Can the person raise both arms?
  • Speech: Is speech slurred or strange? Can the person repeat a simple phrase?
  • Time: Note the time symptoms started and call 911 immediately

Also, similar to heart attacks, stroke symptoms can vary between men and women. As you learn about the signs of a stroke, be sure to learn stroke symptoms that are more common in women.

When you notice stroke symptoms in a loved one, remember to note the time you first noticed that your loved one was experiencing symptoms. Knowing the time of onset can help doctors better diagnose and treat your loved one. 

Treating a Stroke With Expert Care

“Fast treatment of a stroke means that our physicians and ER team can give your loved one special medicine that helps restore blood flow to their brain and stops further damage,” Dr. Barquin says. AdventHealth North Pinellas is a designated stroke center and has been awarded the Gold Plus Stroke Award by the American Heart Association for ensuring just that – that stroke patients receive the best care in our hospital.

Quick treatment is the first step of a long journey to help heal, recover and get back to the activities you love after a stroke.  After you get ER care for a stroke, our network of neurology and neurosurgical experts can help you or a loved one heal from a stroke effectively. Our experts offer evidence-based, whole-person care that meets your needs and boosts your physical, mental and spiritual health.

Don’t Hesitate to Get ER Care for a Stroke

When you see stroke symptoms, remember the acronym FAST, and call 911 immediately to get your loved one to your closest ER.

You can take comfort in knowing that lifesaving care is close to home at any of our emergency departments in your area. Each of our emergency departments are equipped with the tools, protocols and therapies to address a stroke immediately, and our neurological experts near you are here to help restore whole-person health after a stroke.

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