HOUSTON, Texas – When a person suffers a stroke, every minute without treatment increases the likelihood of brain damage and even death.
The Houston Health Department and Houston Fire Department urge Houstonians to use May, National Stroke Awareness Month, as an opportunity to learn the acronym F.A.S.T., an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke.
“The best stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within about three hours of the first symptoms,” said Dr. David Persse, Houston Health Department local health authority and Houston Fire Department medical director.
If someone is thought to be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. by applying the following simple test:
F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
Noting the time that symptoms first appeared can help health care providers determine the best treatment for each person.
“If you or someone around you experiences stroke symptoms, do not drive to the hospital,” Dr. Persse continued. “Call an ambulance so medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.”
Houstonians can learn more about strokes and have their blood pressure checked at the City Hall Farmers Market on May 16. The market takes place at Herman Square in front of City Hall from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Many common medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes can increase a person’s chances of having a stroke. Smoking also increases a person’s risk of stroke and other serious medical conditions. People should consult with their health care providers about ways to control risk.
Nearly 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, resulting in about 140,000 deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Learn more about stroke symptoms, treatment and prevention at cdc.gov/stroke.