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“Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke"

In this post, we are going to talk about a serious topic that everyone should be aware of: strokes (or “cerebrovascular accidents”). According to the American Heart Association (AHA), every 3 minutes and 17 seconds someone in the United States dies from a stroke. The signs and symptoms of a stroke are very easy to remember and can literally save lives!

What exactly is a stroke? Simply put, it's when the blood flow to your brain gets interrupted. This may be due to an occlusion ("clot") or a hemorrhage ("bleed"). When this happens, brain cells start to die off, and that's not a good thing. Your brain, like every other organ, needs a continuous flow of oxygen in order to survive.

The most prevalent signs and symptoms of a stroke can be easily remembered by using the mnemonic “FAST”:

1. Facial Droop/Smile: You may notice that one side of someone’s face is “drooping” or is not moving in symmetry with the other side – this is especially obvious when you ask the person to smile and only one side of their mouth moves as you would expect. 2. Arm numbness or weakness: Keep an eye out for sudden numbness or weakness especially if it's just on one side of the body. You might see someone trying to raise their arm but they’re unable to. 3. Slurred Speech: If you notice someone suddenly struggling to speak, slurring their words, or having difficulty understanding what you're saying, it could be a sign of a stroke. 4. Time: When you notice one or more of the signs/symptoms above, it’s important to both contact EMS via 911 and to document the last time that the person was seen normal. Definitive treatments in the hospital setting rely heavily on the “last known time seen normal”. As an example, if you went to bed at 10:00 p.m. and found the person displaying the symptoms above, and it’s now 6:00 a.m., the last known time seen normal was 10:00 p.m. yesterday evening.

Some additional signs and symptoms of a stroke are:

· Trouble seeing: Blurry vision or sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes can also be a sign of a stroke. It's like someone put a foggy lens over their eyes, and they cannot see clearly.

· Severe headache: We all get headaches from time to time, but a sudden, intense headache that feels like the worst headache they’ve ever had? That could be a sign that something's not right, and it could be stroke.

· Dizziness and loss of balance: If someone suddenly loses their balance/coordination, it could be a sign of a stroke.

Time is crucial, and every minute counts. Contact 911 immediately. The faster EMS arrives, the better the chances of minimizing the damage caused by a stroke.

Remember, strokes do not discriminate. They can happen to adults and children. Finally, it’s best not to give any medications to someone whom you think may be having a stroke, some medications, like Aspirin, may actually worsen the stroke dependent upon the type of stroke that is occurring.

May 23, 2023

Brandon Schoborg

Captain, EMS Hebron Fire Protection District

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