Act FAST: Prevent Injury from Stroke

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted by either a blockage or ruptured blood vessel. In either case, parts of the brain may become damaged, causing disability or death. Stroke is the second leading cause of death in the world, but effects can be minimized if you know the signs and symptoms and act FAST. While strokes are difficult to predict, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by making healthy lifestyle choices now.

6 Tips to Prevent Stroke
  1. Monitor your blood pressure. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. If your doctor indicates this is an issue, there are many easy-to-use devices on the market to check your blood pressure at home. The American Heart Association offers helpful monitoring tips.
  2. Don’t Smoke. Smoking doubles your risk of stroke.
  3. Watch your cholesterol. Too much cholesterol in your blood can stiffen arteries, making it hard for blood to flow. High cholesterol can also increase chances of blood clots.
  4. Avoid or manage diabetes. Diabetes damages blood vessels and increases the rate of high blood pressure and cholesterol.
  5. Exercise and eat well. The surgeon general recommends two hours and 30 minutes of exercise per week and a diet low in trans and saturated fats to manage several stroke risk factors including cholesterol, blood pressure, and weight.
  6. Talk to your doctor. Ask your doctor if you are at risk for stroke. There are lifestyle upgrades and medications you can take to lower your risk.
What to Do in Case of Stroke
When someone has a stroke, every minute counts. Immediate treatment can lessen the damage a stroke causes to the brain and help save a life. If you think someone may be having a stroke, act FAST by completing this 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 their speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
It’s important to note the time when symptoms of stroke first appear. This will help health care providers determine the best treatment. Then, call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the Emergency Department.
Using TeleStroke technology, Emergency Department physicians at Southern NH Medical Center can transmit CT images and other test results directly to specialists at Mass General Hospital. Patients may also be examined via video conferencing by a Mass General acute stroke neurologist. With this partnership, stroke patients get a second expert opinion and can start the most effective treatment plan as quickly as possible. Click here to learn more. 
Understanding the causes and taking steps to prevent a stroke is key to avoiding the debilitating effects. When you do suspect that someone is having a stroke, remember to act FAST and save a life.

Posted: 5/1/2023