Spot a stroke ‘F.A.S.T.’

It could save a life


Stroke is currently the third leading cause of death with more than 140,000 people dying from stroke in the United States. On average someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds.

A stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain or in some cases when a blood vessel in the brain bursts causing bleeding into the brain. Common signs and symptoms of stroke include sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg — often on one side of the body, sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding, sudden vision disturbances or blindness, trouble walking or sudden very severe headache with no known cause. If you notice any of these symptoms you should act “FAST.” The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association suggests that these four simple letters can help you remember the signs of Stroke.

¯ F – Facial Drooping

¯ A – Arm Weakness

¯ S – Speech Difficulty

¯ T – Time to call 911

During a stroke, every second counts. Every minute in which an ischemic stroke is untreated, the average person loses 1.9 million neurons (brain cells). You can make a difference by spotting the signs of stroke and reaching out for help immediately. You only have three hours from the time of the first symptom to get the clot busting treatment that can minimize damage to the brain that causes long term disability and death. Calling 911 will ensure that you or your loved one will get to the hospital in time for treatment. If you get to the hospital and it is not a stroke — that is great news, they can treat the problem. If it is a stroke: You have the best chance possible to reduce the damage to the brain.

Make a difference and call 911. Our emergency responders in Chautauqua County are well trained in evaluating for possible stroke and since every minute counts, they will call the hospital to prepare them for the arrival of the stroke patient. The hospital Emergency Department can meet the EMS providers and reduce any delays in getting the appropriate treatment started.

You can take steps to reduce your risk for stroke in many ways. You can start by not smoking and increasing your physical activity. Eat a healthy diet low in saturated fats and maintain a healthy weight as well. It is also important to treat other health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes to minimize your risk for stroke.

With all our recent superhero movies, we want you to remember this: you can harness your superpower and act FAST if you see signs of stroke. You will make a difference and save a life.

Chautauqua County has high rates of both heart attack and stroke, but an estimated 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable. CHQ250 is an initiative of the Chautauqua Health Action Team(CHAT), encouraging you to take action to be one of at least 250 strokes, heart attacks, or related deaths prevented in Chautauqua County in the coming year. This column is written by CHAT members to share information to help you to do your part to live a life free of stroke or heart disease; it is not intended to replace advice provided by your healthcare team. Please direct questions or comments to: