Stroke is a silent killer. It strikes without warning and can leave its victim helpless, unable to call 911. That is why it is critically important for everyone to know the signs and symptoms of stroke. When stroke strikes, its victim may not be able to speak, and so knowing the other signs can help to get them medical assistance immediately. If treatment is administered within three hours from the onset of symptoms, then there is a good chance of recovery. Once time progresses outside that three-hour window, the efficacy of the stroke fighting medication diminishes rapidly.
Just remember the acronym FAST. It captures the signs and symptoms of stroke in an easily remembered word.
F: Face drooping.
If one side of the senior’s face is drooping, ask the senior to smile. If one side of the mouth doesn’t turn up, it could indicate that a stroke is occurring at that very moment. Ask if their face is numb. If the answer is yes, it may be a sign of a stroke. Don’t hesitate to call 911.
A: Arm weakness.
Can the senior raise both arms to an equal height? Even if they cannot usually raise their arms above their head, they should be able to raise both arms equally to whatever level is possible. If one arm is dropping, with no strength to raise it, a stroke could be occurring. This symptom can occur by itself. It will occur only on one side of the body. It is a red flag for a stroke and 911 should be called immediately.
S: Slurred speech.
Ask a senior to repeat a simple sentence such as “I want to go to the store.” If the senior is suffering a stroke, speech will be slurred, the sentence will be jumbled such as “I go to store want,” or completely unrelated such as “cookie to store.” Call 911.
When one of these symptoms occurs, there is no time to waste. This is extremely important- there is no time to waste. It doesn’t matter if some of the symptoms subside, call for emergency services. Time is of the essence, and any time lost can mean lost brain function. Make sure to record the time when the first symptoms occur so that this information can be relayed to authorities. The quicker one acts, the quicker something can be done, and hopefully more dire consequences can be avoided.
Strokes can occur without notice, and by knowing these symptoms, people can act more quickly. Stroke symptoms may be subtle. The senior may not exhibit dramatic symptoms like one would see on television. Just remember that stroke is a silent killer and if any of these symptoms occur, it is time to call 911. Being safe rather than sorry can save a life when it comes to stroke. Act fast, and remember FAST.