Think FAST to Recognize Signs of Stroke

Eileen McNichols MSN, RN
Director, Pastoral Care Services and Community Health Little Company of Mary Hospital

May is the month that we really believe summer is coming. In healthcare, we celebrate May as National Stroke Awareness month. With early recognition and management, the number of people surviving stroke with improved functionality is steadily improving. 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 monumental achievement. If you can remember the phrase Think FAST, you can be a stroke champion and 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.

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 4.5 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, sign up for the Wake Up Call screening. You can help prevent stroke and its long term consequences if you remember to Think FAST.

Top Programs in May
Little Company of Mary Hospital, 2800 W. 95th St. Registration: 708-423-5774.

Health Academy — Updates on Stroke Management from the Experts: A Panel Presentation, Mon., May 13, 11 a.m. to noon. Free.
CHEER puts the power of humor to work in your life with “Live, Laugh, Love,” Wed., May 15, 11 a.m. to noon. Free.
Wake Up Call screening, Sat., May 18, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., a one-hour screening that could save your life. Includes lab work, ultrasounds of the carotid and abdominal aortic arteries, peripheral vascular screening, heart rhythm screening and more. Appointment required. $160.
Free blood pressure screenings, every Tues. and Thurs., 10:30 a.m. to noon, West Pavilion outside the Women’s Center. No appointment required.