F.A.S.T. To Better Understand Strokes
March 26, 2014

F.A.S.T. To Better Understand Strokes

Recently, redOrbit‘s Rebekah Eliason wrote about a study that showed that many women in the US did not know the warning signs of a stroke. The study surveyed 1,205 women via phone, which produced some interesting statistics:

  • 51 percent identified sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the face as a warning.
  • 44 percent were aware that difficulty speaking or garbled speech was also a warning.
  • Less than 25 percent knew sudden severe headache, unexplained dizziness, and sudden vision loss could indicate a stroke.
  • 25 percent of Hispanic women were unaware of all the warning signs.
  • 18 percent of white women were unaware of all the warning signs.
  • 19 percent of black women were unaware of all the warning signs.
  • 84 percent of all women knew it was vital to call 9-1-1 if they believed they were having a stroke.

As the redOrbit article explains, “Affecting more women than men, strokes are the fourth-leading overall cause of death in the United States and the third leading cause of death among women. Stroke is the primary cause of long-term disability among those who survive. Risk for stroke is the greatest among minority racial groups including black and Hispanic.” Since heart disease is the number one killer of women, knowing when a stroke is happening is crucial to life.

The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association define a stroke:

“Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. It is the No. 4 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.”

The American Stroke Association further uses the acronym F.A.S.T. to help all know the warning signs:

F = Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Is the smile uneven?

A = Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward?

S = Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Does the person repeat simple sentences correctly?

T = Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, no matter the severity or whether they go away, it is time to get the person to the hospital immediately.

Since women suffer from strokes, they must know these warning signs in order to act fast. Fast action is key to both survival of a stroke as well as recovery from a stroke. Thus knowing what the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke are may be the difference between life and death. Heart health is no joking matter. None of us should take it lightly, and all of us need to be aware of the different symptoms from stroke to heart attack to embolism and aneurism. As the number four cause of death and one of the leading causes of disability, we simply must be more informed on the risks, symptoms, and actions to take if we think we are having a stroke or are around somebody else who is having a stroke.

Image Credit: Thinkstock

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Rayshell E. Clapper is an Associate Professor of English at a rural college in Oklahoma where she teaches Creative Writing, Literature, and Composition classes. She has presented her original fiction and non-fiction at several conferences and events including: Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Howlers and Yawpers Creativity Symposium, Southwest/Texas Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association Regional Conference, and Pop Culture Association/American Culture Association National Conference. Her publications include Cybersoleil Journal, Sugar Mule Literary Magazine, Red Dirt Anthology, Originals, and Oklahoma English Journal. Beyond her written works, she successfully created a writer's group in rural Oklahoma to support burgeoning writers. The written word is her passion, and all she experiences inspires that passion. She hopes to help inspire others through her words.

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