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Your Healthy Family: Be stroke-smart, everyone can learn F.A.S.T

Posted at 5:19 PM, May 31, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-12 13:56:31-04

As part of Stroke Awareness Month and to raise awareness about the  condition, we are going over the common symptoms of a stroke.

When I spent about half-hour randomly visiting with people in Colorado Springs, I found a fair representation of what UCHealth found in a survey they did in April, when they polled more than 200 people on their knowledge of the most common warning signs of a stroke.

Doctors sum up the symptoms with the acronym F.A.S.T.

F – Facial drooping

A – Arm weakness

S – Slurred speech

T – Time to call 9-1-1

Of the people UCHealth surveyed, 8 percent admitted they didn’t know any signs of a stroke.  A quarter of people correctly identified speech difficulty as a symptom, and 15 percent correctly mentioned facial drooping. Only 6 percent  correctly identified arm weakness as a major symptom. Just 2 percent correctly knew what F.A.S.T. stands for in terms of stroke symptoms.

Doctors continue to emphasize that no matter how good stroke care is, even at a Comprehensive Stroke Center like UCHealth Memorial, time is the most critical element when it comes to successful stroke treatment.  If people don’t quickly recognize stroke symptoms, and call 9-1-1, outcomes may not be as favorable.

Despite the importance of calling 9-1-1, the UCHealth research study found that 41 percent of respondents who experienced a stroke themselves or who had a family member with a stroke were transported to the hospital by private car – either a family member drove them or they drove themselves.

In my conversations on the street asking people if they knew the warning signs of a stroke, many were quick to instead list the common signs of a heart attack.  Doctors say the push years ago to raise awareness of the signs of a heart attack have educated people about heart health. Neurologists and neurosurgeons say the push now needs to focus on stroke, which can be likened to a brain attack.  The symptoms shouldn’t be ignored and when they strike, it’s time to call 9-1-1.