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Beacon of HOPE Wellness Committee: Recognizing stroke symptoms and knowing what to do

April 10, 2019
By BARBARA PAVCOVICH - Special to The Eagle , Pine Island Eagle

Though there are times when stroke symptoms seem to resolve on their own, experiencing any of the symptoms of stroke constitutes a medical emergency. Learning to recognize these symptoms and knowing what to do next are crucial. The earlier we can recognize them the more quickly we can act and minutes count.

The acronym F.A.S.T. can help us quickly identify a stroke in progress.

F. Face drooping. One side of the face can become numb or droop. This can cause a smile to appear uneven.

A. Arm weakness. One arm will feel weak or numb. If you ask a person who is having a stroke to raise both of their arms, one will drift downward.

S. Speech difficulty. Words will be slurred or hard to understand. It is a struggle to repeat a simple sentence.

T. Time to call 911. Don't hesitate. Be sure to note the time that the symptoms started to show even if they end up going away.

From the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke comes a more comprehensive list of symptoms.

- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body.

- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.

- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.

- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Research conducted by New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center in 2012 indicates that possibly because we are not aware of recent medical advances in the treatment of stroke or we are not aware of the seriousness of stroke even if the symptoms resolve, many people still seem reluctant to call 911. They may call their primary physician and lose valuable time as the damage becomes irreversible.

Dr. Karmel, a neurologist at the Center says recovery is possible with early treatment.

"We have drugs and surgeries that can minimize brain damage but they can be used only within a few short hours," he said. "When stroke victims or bystanders quickly recognize the symptoms of a stroke and call 911, patients are more likely to arrive in time to receive these treatments."

Have yourselves a beautiful summer and remember please don't hesitate to call 911 if you or anyone else is having symptoms of a stroke.

The Beacon of HOPE is located at 5090 Doug Taylor Circle, St James City; 239-283-5123.



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