FAST: Not as in going without food, or doing somewhere in a speedy manner, but as in
F.A.S.T, Face, Arm, Speech, Time.
Due to my position in preventative health, I was recently invited to attend an informative gathering of the newly formed Stroke Awareness Oregon non-profit here in Bend.
I would like to share with you what I learned.
What is a Stroke?
A stroke is when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked by a blood clot, cutting off blood flow (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel is damaged and leaks blood into the brain (hemorrhagic stroke, less common).
When a stroke occurs millions of brain cells die, as their oxygen supply is depleted. More cells die with each passing minute after a stroke, until blood flow can (hopefully) be re-established.
Depending on where in the brain cells are impacted, and for how long they are left without blood flow, brain damage can be permanently disabling and in some cases deadly.
- Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in Oregon, and the United States, and first leading cause of serious long term disability.
- An estimated 795,000 strokes will occur this year in the US, leading to 130,000 deaths.
- In Bend, 2017, 309 individuals were admitted with ischemic stroke.
- Stroke risk increase after age 55.
- Ages 18-44 years has seen a huge surge in strokes, increasing by 42% in the last 15 years.
NEW BRAIN IMAGING TECHNOLOGY
…called CT Perfusion, allows more patients at St. Charles Medical Center to be treated who would otherwise not have been eligible. This scan shows cross sections of the brain and color codes tissue effected by lack of blood flow that is dead verses dying.
The two emergency treatments for stroke patients are tissue plasminogen activator (TPA), which targets blood clots in the brain and dissolves them, and thrombectomy, a technique used to capture and remove a clot in the brain with a mesh wire.
Both of these techniques are HIGHLY TIME SENSITIVE. As mentioned above, with each passing minute brain tissue goes without blood flow and oxygen, the higher the risk of longterm damage.
For every thirty minutes delay in treatment post stroke, changes of positive outcome decreases by 8.3%.
This is why using FAST can help limit disability from stroke and potentially save a life!
F = FACE= Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS= Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
S = SPEECH= Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred, or strange?
T = TIME= If you observe any of these signs, alone or in combination, call 9-1-1 immediately.
WHAT ABOUT PREVENTION?
I am wired to think about prevention; how might we help people avoid the risk of stroke and never having to go through FAST, or the above procedures?
So, I am doing my part here to spread the word on yet another life-altering reason to stay a-tune to your health status and act in favor of your well-being!
- 80% of strokes are preventable.
- The most common risk factor is high blood pressure (also known as hypertension).
- One out of every six Americans have high blood pressure, and therefore stroke risk, and don’t know it.
- Ironically (or not) other modifiable risk factors of stroke include lack of physical activity, smoking, and alcohol intake over moderation, all of which also contribute to high blood pressure.
TIPS you can follow for preventing Stroke, and Hypertension:
- Have you blood pressure checked regularly by a health care professional.
- Limit your intake of fast food, processed food, canned food and fried food, which tend to have higher than necessary amounts of salt.
- Engage in moderate physical activity most days of the week.
- Drink plenty of water and limit alcohol intake.
Strong Awareness Oregon; StrokeAwarenessOregon.org
American Heart Association; Heart.org
American Stroke Association; StrokeAssociation.org
National Stroke Association: Stroke.org