Someone experiencing a stroke is in a dangerous situation. Strokes affect 800,000 people in the United States annually, with deaths occurring every 3.5 minutes. When the blood supply to the brain is cut off and starved of oxygen, cells become damaged or die. The result is a stroke, a series of debilitating and, in some cases, life-threatening symptoms. Strokes can happen to anyone and at any time. However, there are early warning signs. Taking quick action using the BE FAST method can prevent severe complications.
Types of strokes
All strokes aren’t the same, with 2 main types that can occur. Ischemic strokes are the most common, affecting around 85% of stroke patients. A narrowing or blockage of a blood vessel in the brain limits blood supply. Some people get a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke. The less common but more severe stroke is hemorrhagic stroke. With hemorrhagic strokes, a blood vessel ruptures, and blood leaks into the brain. This stroke can permanently damage brain cells, causing several long-term or permanent side effects.
Signs and symptoms you can’t ignore
The symptoms of strokes are vast and wide-ranging. Some symptoms include facial drooping, slurred speech, memory loss, and confusion. These can range from mild to severe. In some cases, vision loss, loss of balance, and reduced mobility can happen and may even be permanent. There are several treatments available, and some strokes require extensive recovery. Quick action is one of the best ways to get treatment and even reverse some of these symptoms.
The BE FAST rule
An acronymn to remember. The BE FAST rule is used to quickly detect a stroke. This acronym has been updated from the FAST rule to include other critical symptoms. Individually, these symptoms may be ignored but are serious when occurring together. The B stands for balance. If someone appears dizzy or faint, this could be a warning sign. E stands for eyes. Is the person experiencing blurred vision or vision loss? The F stands for facial drooping to one side. Is smiling or moving the facial muscles possible? The A is for the ability to move the arm. Is there a weakness in one or both arms? The S stands for slurred speech. Can the person speak clearly and intelligently? Then comes the last part, T, which stands for time to call 911.
When should you go to a hospital?
The BE FAST symptoms should signal a loved one to call emergency services immediately. Take note of the first time the symptoms appeared and inform the responders. This information can help responders take the best possible action. Make sure to avoid medication, food, or drinks, and do not move until instructed to do so. At the hospital, the medical team will provide intravenous (IV) medication, further tests, or emergency surgical procedures.
BE FAST and take action
Strokes require quick action to avoid severe, permanent complications. Even if someone recovers from a stroke, there is a 25% chance of another. The important thing is to look for poor balance, vision loss, slurred speech, a droopy face, and weak arms. If those persist, call emergency help. Reaching a healthcare provider quickly could be the difference between life and death.