Quickly recognize the signs of a stroke

Every 40 seconds someone has a stroke. A stroke can happen to anyone at any time.

A stroke occurs when the blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. During a stroke the brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. When brain cells die, the abilities controlled by that area of the brain such as memory and muscle control are lost.

The effect of a stroke depends on where in the brain the stroke occurs and how much of the brain is damaged. For example, a small stroke may cause temporary weakness in an arm or leg. Larger strokes may cause permanent paralysis or loss of the ability to speak.

The physical damage caused by a stroke can be irreversible. With therapy, stroke patients can recover some abilities, but two-thirds of stroke survivors have some type of disability.

Texas County Memorial Hospital is the state designated stroke center for Texas County and the surrounding areas. In 2016, TCMH treated 40 stroke patients, and any time a patient comes to the hospital with stroke symptoms, the stroke team is activated.

Recognition of stroke symptoms and calling 9-1-1 determines how quickly a stroke patient will receive treatment. The acronym “FAST” is an easy way to determine if you or another person is experiencing a stroke.

• “F” stands for “face.” Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• “A” stands for “arms.” Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• “S” stands for “speech.” Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech seem strange or slurred?

• “T” stands for “time.” If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Immediate treatment can minimize the effects of stroke and improve recovery outcomes.

For additional information about stroke symptoms and health factors that can cause a stroke, contact Connie Brooks, education director at TCMH, at 866-967-3311 or cbrooks@tcmh.org.

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