Your Health: Think FAST…

By Eileen McNichols, Director, Community Health and Pastoral Care, Little Company of Mary Hospital

Finally! The weather is warm and sunny. The flowers are in bloom and the grass needs mowing.  As we become more physically engaged and spend more time together talking over the fence, sitting on the porch and catching up after a long winter, let’s remember that we can make a difference in the health and well-being of our community.

Stroke is a serious health situation for which the treatment has dramatically improved. The number of people surviving stroke with improved functionality is steadily improving as well. The old saying “knowledge is power” is certainly true when it comes to stroke. The more people are aware of risk factors , signs and symptoms, and appropriate response to stroke, the more likely we are to prevent and manage stroke in such a way that quality of life is enhanced.

According to the American Stroke Association, “most strokes are preventable and a large percentage of the ones that happen are treatable with the right care, right away. It’s a matter of knowing what to do, taking action and spreading the word.” The risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, carotid artery and peripheral vascular disease, atrial fibrillation and sickle cell disease. Working with your primary care provider to manage these risk factors decreases the chances that you will have a stroke.

Recently, stroke has gone from the third to the fourth leading cause of death in the U.S., which is a monumental achievement.  If you can remember the phrase “Think FAST,” you can help to continue the success of minimizing the number of people who experience stroke, maximizing early access to care and improving the quality of life for stroke victims.

FAST helps you remember the symptoms to look for and the actions to take.

FACE: Drooping on one side of the face. Ask the person to smile.

ARM: Weakness on one side. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

SPEECH: Slurred speech. Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand?

TIME:  If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 to get the person to the hospital immediately. Treatment that begins within three to four hours of the first sign of a stroke results in the best outcome.

Little Company of Mary Hospital is a primary stroke center, recognized by the Joint Commission of Hospital Accreditation as a place where stroke patients receive excellent care.  To learn your personal risk factors for stroke, enroll in the comprehensive Wake Up Call screening program at Little Company of Mary Hospital. You can be a champion to prevent stroke and its long term consequences if you remember to “think F.A.S.T.”.

June Programs, Little Company of Mary Hospital, 2800 W. 95th St. Call to register: 708-423-5774

Health Academy presents Small Gland Big Problems: Thyroid Health with endocrinologist, Ammar Bayrakdar, MD, Mon., June 12,  11:15 a.m. to noon. Free.

Skin Cancer Screening with dermatologist Arash Koochek, MD, Thurs., June 15, 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., Health Education Center. Free. Appointment required.

Babysitting Safe and Secure, a class in safe babysitting practices for children age 11 to 14 learn, Mon., June 19, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Beverly Area Planning Association Community Room, 11109 S. Longwood Dr. $60. Reservation required.

Wake Up Call Screening, one hour screening that includes lab work, ultrasounds of the abdominal aorta and carotid arteries, peripheral vascular screening, heart rhythm screening and more, Sat., June 24, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., Cancer Center. Appointment required. $155 (value $4,000).



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