The chances of surviving a stroke increase when emergency treatment begins as soon as possible.
Do you know what FAST stands for? If your answer is IDK, it’s time to do an acronym upgrade. Everyone in your office should know what these letters represent, as the knowledge could save a life.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that 800,000 people have a stroke annually, and about 140,000 Americans die from them every year. A stroke happens every 40 seconds, and someone dies of a stroke every 4 minutes. Quick medical treatment is crucial for treating the condition, so it’s important to know the symptoms. That’s where FAST comes in.
The chances of surviving a stroke increase when emergency treatment begins as soon as possible, as do the chances of making a full or improved recovery. According to CDC statistics, people who get treatment within 3 hours of the first symptoms experience less disability than those who get delayed care.
Getting that quick care means knowing the symptoms of a stroke. Unfortunately, the CDC reports that only about 38% of us know the 4 major signs of a stroke.
While about 75% of all strokes occur in people over the age of 65, adults at any age can have one. It’s the 5th leading cause of deaths in the United States.
We’ll get to the details of FAST next—but here’s something that underscores why this information and its application are so important. The American Heart Association reports that while the percentage of strokes are increasing as a result of heart disease, the actual number of stroke deaths has declined. This may be due to the increasing number of people who are aware of FAST.
What is a stroke, anyway?
A stroke occurs when the blood flow to a certain area of the brain is cut off. Cells in this area of the brain begin to die without a supply of oxygen. The resulting brain cell damage can cause loss of memory or muscle control, and a serious stroke can cause death.
Not all strokes are obvious. Some are known as transient ischemic attacks—mini strokes—where the symptoms are short-lived or even spontaneously resolve. This doesn’t mean they are any less dangerous.
FAST = 4 signs
There are 4 common signs of a stroke, and they usually appear suddenly. The wise thing to do is immediately seek out emergency medical attention if you or an office coworker exhibits any of these 4 symptoms.
- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does it look uneven?
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms and hold them level to the floor. Does one of their arms drift downwards? Are they unable to life one of their arms?
- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, like “Let’s have tacos for lunch today.” Do they slur the words, or maybe miss a few?
- Time: This last thing isn’t a symptom—it’s a reminder of what to do. It’s time to call for emergency medical assistance, quickly.
There are 2 more common symptoms that can be of concern. They’re not part of the FAST group. Seek out immediate medical attention if you experience a sudden, severe headache—especially if you can’t attribute a cause for it. The same goes for a sudden inability to see clearly with one or both of your eyes.
The benefit of FAST action
Make note of the time if you notice any of the FAST symptoms in yourself or a coworker. It’ll be important for medical professionals to know when those symptoms first began to occur. This is because clot-busting drugs called tissue plasminogen activators can reduce long-term disability for some strokes. These medications, however, are only approved for stroke treatment if given within 3 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Quick identification and intervention are essential for saving both lives and quality of lives in the event of a stroke, as well as most medical emergencies in the workplace. If your workplace could benefit from lifesaving instruction, including first aid, CPR, and automatic electronic defibrillator (AED) training, One Beat CPR + AED offers professional, accessible, American Heart Association-approved courses. For more information or to find a training facility near you, connect with us online or give us a call at 954.321.5305.