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Learn how to recognize and react to a stroke.

When “Code Stroke” is announced over the hospital loudspeaker, a designated health care team immediately moves the patient for a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.

“It is the staff’s first step in managing a stroke,” said Jennifer Chism, MSN, RN, director of nursing at Saint Joseph Mount Sterling. “We have to act fast because every 15 minutes of stroke symptoms can equal one month of disability.”

The clock starts ticking at the first sign of a stroke, which is why it is important to know what to do if a stroke is suspected. The acronym F.A.S.T. can help you remember how to identify and react to the symptoms so potential brain cell loss is minimized.

Act F.A.S.T.

Face: The person may experience facial weakness. Ask him or her to smile and check to see if his or her face appears uneven or droopy.

Arms: One or both arms may feel weak, numb or paralyzed. Ask the person to try to raise his or her arms and observe whether either arm drifts.

Speech: Determine if the person has slurred speech, difficulty speaking or trouble repeating simple phrases.

Time: There is a limited time frame to treat an ischemic stroke, which is caused by a blockage of a blood vessel to the brain – the cause for about 87 percent of all strokes. If a person exhibits any symptoms, note the the time the symptoms started and call 911 immediately.

Managing high blood pressure can help reduce stroke risk. Make an appointment with your primary care provider to have your blood pressure checked. Need a provider? Visit our online provider directory.

This article was originally published in the Winter 2019 edition of Spirit of Health magazine. Subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine to read more stories like this one.