Immediate Treatment Makes a Difference
Strokes are less likely to be fatal or cause serious disability if the patient receives treatment immediately. Studies from The American Stroke Association have found that patients who take a drug to break up blood clots within three hours of the first stroke symptom are less likely to be disabled from the event long-term. Since strokes can cause permanent disability or death, knowing the warning signs and getting treatment immediately can make a huge difference in the outcome. If you’re worried that you or a loved one might be at risk for a stroke, here’s what you need to know about the biggest warning signs so you can get help at once.
Patients Need to Educate Themselves
In the United States, we’re facing a care crisis, due to the aging population. By 2030, the number of people over the age of 65 will reach 69 million, and we will be facing a shortage of healthcare workers that could impact quality of care and the time that is spent on diagnosis. Although self-education and knowing the symptoms of a stroke won’t replace a doctor’s care or diagnosis, it can make a difference.
Prevention and knowing the signs of a stroke can mean the difference between life and death. Taking precautions can mean not having a stroke at all or preventing one from becoming fatal. People with stroke risk factors need to educate themselves in order to optimize the outcome if they do have a stroke.
The FAST Test
Fortunately, we know enough about strokes to understand what the typical symptoms are. The best-known warning signs of a stroke are the FAST symptoms. This acronym stands for:
The FAST test can help you decide whether or not it’s time to seek help. When evaluating the FAST test criteria, make sure to check yourself in the mirror to see if your face is droopy. Make sure you can lift both your arms, and try talking—is your speech normal, or slurred? If you exhibit any of these symptoms, you should get help immediately.
Other symptoms may also occur, but the FAST test is the most reliable way to assess your or a loved one’s condition.
What to Do if You Notice Symptoms
Nothing else is more important than getting treatment at once when you think you might be having a stroke. If you’re in doubt, you may be tempted to wait. But remember: time is not on your side when you’re experiencing a stroke, so call 911 immediately. If you live with someone who is at risk for a stroke, be prepare to look out for symptoms and take action immediately to get them treatment at once.
At the ER, stroke patients are typically given medication through an IV to help break up blood clots. Surgery may be performed to manually remove blockages. Some strokes are “mini-strokes” that will disappear within 24 hours, but it’s important not to take chances. Get help immediately to improve the chances of a favorable outcome.
Awareness Can Help Improve Health Issues
Of course, it’s always better to prevent a stroke in the first place than it is to treat one. While it’s not always possible, people can improve their overall health and reduce the risk for stroke by implementing healthy habits. These habits including exercising and improving diet, managing blood pressure, quitting smoking and drinking, and managing cholesterol and diabetes.
There’s immense value in knowing what causes a stroke and of being mindful of the symptoms and potential outcomes. Even if you’re not at risk yourself, you can help educate those in your life by doing research or reaching out to organizations that help improve community health through education. Everyone can help improve health issues and reduce the chance for death or disability from a stroke or heart attack by seeking out information and making the choice to live a healthier lifestyle.