Do you know about FAST?
There have been all kinds of advertisements lately about FAST but you, like me, may have missed them or let them wash by.
It surely is nothing I need to worry about right now.
I’m young, I’m never going to have a stroke.
But age does not matter. Strokes and TIAs (Transient Ischaemic Attacks or mini-strokes) can happen to anyone at anytime.
It’s vitally important we all know and act upon FAST.
Face. Arms. Speech. Time.
Why is FAST so important?
FAST represents the most common signs of stroke:
- Facial weakness – are there signs of a drooping mouth?
- Arm weakness – can both arms be lifted?
- Speech – can they be understood? Can they understand you?
- Time is of the essence – seek medical help IMMEDIATELY.
Other signs may include one, or a combination of:
- Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body
- Difficulty speaking or understanding
- Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall
- Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes
- Headache, usually severe and abrupt onset or unexplained change in the pattern of headaches
- Difficulty swallowing
In my case I experienced a mouth droop and difficulty speaking for a minute or two which was followed by numbness, tingling and heaviness in my left arm for about half an hour or so after that. One possible cause was a small clot that developed somewhere in my brain that caused a malfunction for a short time before dissolving – a TIA. Luckily an MRI confirmed there was no lasting damage to my brain.
Do you know a stroke can last for as little as a few seconds? I didn’t. The symptoms of a TIA last for less than 24 hours and usually leave little or no lasting damage to the body. Despite this they are still a very serious event and anyone exhibiting any of the above symptoms need to see medical assistance as soon as possible.
Timely medical attention can result in better outcomes. There are effective treatment options available that can limit any damage to the brain or to motor function. A drug can be administered in certain cases within hours of a stroke which breaks down blood clots that sometimes cause TIAs or stroke.
If you or someone you know experience anything listed above, even if you think it was nothing, please get it checked out. I’ve been surprised by the number of stories shared recently where people either downplayed or ignored their symptoms and did not seek help until hours or days afterward.
Time is the most important part of FAST – you need to get help quickly to prevent any lasting damage. Further, the chance of having another and perhaps more debilitating TIA following the first is greatest in the first 24 hours.
Get it checked out, even if you feel it isn’t worth it. The best outcome is that it isn’t a stroke.
Compared to the alternative, that’s not a bad outcome at all.
Remember – F.A.S.T!