World Stroke Day: Learn To Recognize Signs of Stroke Quickly

FASTIt’s always the perfect time to learn the warning signs of a stroke, but this week is especially timely as World Stroke Day approaches on Thursday.

“We want to encourage the people in our profession and the community to pay it forward by taking the time to learn a simple screening. It only takes five minutes to learn and could save a lot of lives,” said Amanda Conn, RN, who serves as Memorial’s stroke center program coordinator for neurosciences.

The test is called FAST, which is an acronym for Face, Arms, Speech and Time. Here’s how the FAST screening works:

  • If you suspect someone may be having a stroke, you should first check for facial weaknesses—anything that’s different from one side of the face to the other, such as an uneven smile.
  • Next, have the person hold out their arms as if they’re holding a tray. If the person is unable to raise both arms evenly or if one arm is slightly drifting or numb, it could be a sign of trouble.
  • Does their speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat simple phrases to test their speech. Slurred speech or difficulty repeating phrases could be a sign of a stroke.
  • Note the time when the person was last seen without symptoms. Most important, call 911 immediately.

“A stroke is an emergency,” Conn said. “Identifying stroke symptoms and taking immediate action are crucial because treatment options are so time dependent.”

A clot-busting medication, tPA, and interventional procedures can improve the chances of recovering from a stroke, but the treatments can only be offered during the first few hours.

“Patients don’t always recognize their own stroke and when they do, sometimes their symptoms make calling for help difficult, if not impossible,” Conn said. “Just like we need to learn CPR to save someone else’s life, we need to learn how to spot a stroke and act fast for the best chance of a positive outcome.”

Amanda Conn, RN, BSN

Amanda Conn, RN, BSN, is the stroke center program coordinator for neuromuscular sciences at Memorial Medical Center. As program coordinator, she helps guide patients through the continuum of care by acting as the clinical liaison and communication link between patients, families and the medical and clinical staff.