00:00 AM

Think F.A.S.T. to recognize the signs of stroke

From the moment a stroke occurs, 1.9 million neurons are lost every minute, only leaving a small window in which diagnosis and treatment may prevent lifelong complications. Action is crucial during this time, and so is the ability to recognize stroke symptoms and get help. The right care right away can save lives.

For patients in northwest Montana, the right care is close to home. Kalispell Regional Healthcare (KRH) recently received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment to ensuring stroke patients receive the most appropriate treatment according to nationally recognized, research-based guidelines based on the latest scientific evidence.

To earn Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke Gold Plus, KRH has met specific quality achievement measures for the diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients at a set level for a designated period. These measures include evaluation of the proper use of medications and other stroke treatments aligned with the most up-to-date, evidence-based guidelines with the goal of speeding recovery and reducing death and disability for stroke patients. Before discharge, patients should also receive education on managing their health and get a follow-up visit scheduled, as well as other care transition interventions.

KRH is dedicated to improving diagnosis and treatment of stroke patients, and implementing the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines®-Stroke programs help standardize and improve stroke patient response and care.

According to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, stroke is the number five cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability in the United States. On average, someone in the U.S. suffers a stroke every 40 seconds and nearly 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. However, up to 80 percent of strokes may be preventable through lifestyle choices like staying active, not smoking, and monitoring your blood pressure and cholesterol.

Everyone can benefit from learning the warning signs and symptoms associated with a stroke incident, and then get help fast. The American Stroke Association uses a simple acronym:

  • F – FACE DROOPING: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven or lopsided?
  • 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? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the person able to correctly repeat the words?
  • T – TIME TO CALL 9-1-1: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and say, “I think this is a stroke” to help get the person to the hospital immediately. Time is important! Don’t delay, and also note the time when the first symptoms appeared. Emergency responders will want to know.

Other common stroke symptoms you should know to look out for are sudden weakness or numbness of the leg, sudden confusion or trouble understanding, sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance or coordination, and sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Stroke can happen to anyone of any age at any time. Be an asset to yourself and others around you by knowing what to look for and how to act. Just remember the four letters, F.A.S.T., and three numbers, 9-1-1, upon a potential stroke incident.

Read about stroke symptoms, treatment, prevention and more at the KRH Stroke Program online.