If you’re like most Americans, you don’t know the signs of stroke.
Only 8 percent of those recently surveyed in the American Stroke Association/Ad Council Stroke Awareness Continuous Tracking Study could identify each letter in F.A.S.T., an acronym of the most common stroke warning signs.
“Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready,” said Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D., professor of Neurology and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at University of California Los Angeles and American Stroke Association spokesperson.
As part of American Stroke Month in May, Saver and the American Stroke Association urge all Americans residents to download a free mobile app and learn how to detect a stroke.
“Learning how to spot a stroke is just as important as teaching your family CPR or what to do in the event of a fire. With stroke — just like a cardiac arrest or a fire — seconds count,” he said.
- F - Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
- A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S - Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- T - Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Additional stroke signs include: sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding.
Teaching people how to recognize a stroke and respond quickly is a primary goal of the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative sponsored nationally by Medtronic.
The free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. app for iOS and Android is available in English and Spanish and includes a stroke warning sign quiz, high blood pressure chart and a searchable map of hospitals recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.
“Many people think of strokes as a disease of the elderly, but it can happen to anyone at any time, even very young people,” said Saver. “When someone recognizes a stroke and quickly calls 9-1-1, the person has a greater chance of getting to an appropriate hospital quickly and being assessed for a clot-busting drug or a medical clot-removal device that may save their brain tissue and prevent long-term disability.”
Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the nation’s No. 5 leading cause of death. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. For more information and to download the app, visit StrokeAssociation.org.