Raising stroke awareness
Pete, a 40 year old contractor, had no idea what was happening to him when he lost strength in his arm.
Fortunately, a co-worker knew about F.A.S.T., a quick way to identify signs of a stroke, and called 9-1-1 immediately.
Because Pete received immediate medical attention, the effects of his stroke were minimized.
"Stroke is a brain attack and an emergency," says Carol Stiles, the executive director of Stroke Awareness Oregon. "Stroke isn't something that happens to your grandmother. It can strike anyone regardless of age, gender or apparent health. Even infants experience strokes."
Stroke Awareness Oregon, a Bend-based nonprofit dedicated to stroke awareness and supporting the recovery of stroke survivors and their families, is making sure every Central Oregonian knows the signs of stroke and the importance of getting immediate medical attention.
They have partnered with St. Charles Health System to promote a region-wide stroke awareness campaign Nov. 5-9.
"If a person in your office or in your home is having a stroke, they don't know what's happening to them, but this F.A.S.T. acronym is a quick way to identify the symptoms," Stiles said.
The F stands for face. Is the person's face drooping or lopsided?
A stands for arm. Does the person have arm weakness or one-side weakness?
The S stands for speech. Is the person mumbling words or having difficulty speaking?
T stands for time. Time is critical, so call 9-1-1.
"Those are all indications that it's time to get medical attention for the person," Stiles explained. "The more immediate medical attention is attained for an individual having a stroke, the better their outcomes because there are some great medical techniques available now."
She pointed out that are new and advancing medical technologies that can lessen the potentially life-changing and devastating aftermath of a stroke.
One in six people will have a stroke in their life-time, and stroke is the number five killer in Oregon. It's also the number one cause of disability in the world.
"Unfortunately, people experiencing a stroke often don't know what is happening to them and are unable to ask for help," Stiles pointed out. "The simple acronym, F.A.S.T., can help friends and loved ones know the basic signs of a stroke and get their friend or loved one medical attention — F.A.S.T."
She's talked to a number of folks who have had family members suffer strokes, and they didn't know what was wrong with their loved one. They thought the stroke victims were just tired.
The organizations behind the awareness campaign plan to eventually host some events and speaking engagements, but at this point, they're simply spreading the F.A.S.T. message.
"Stroke Awareness Oregon wants F.A.S.T. to become a household safety word as common as 9-1-1 or CPR," Stiles said. "Medical treatments for stroke make a difference, but medical intervention must be attained F.A.S.T."
F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop at all?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you observe any of these signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.