Published on May 13, 2014

Act FAST to minimize stroke damage

By Janice Early

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

May is Stroke Awareness Month. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association promotes this month to educate Americans that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. While stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the United States, many Americans still do not think of stroke as a major health concern.

A stroke, also known as a brain attack, affects arteries leading to and within the brain. Stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it starts to die.

On average, someone suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, someone dies of a stroke every four minutes, and 795,000 people suffer a new or recurrent stroke each year. Would you be able to recognize the signs of a stroke if someone you knew was having one?

The American Stroke Association notes that “time lost is brain lost.” Today there are treatments that may significantly reduce the damage from the most common type of stroke. However, some of the treatments must be started within three hours of symptom onset. Therefore, it is crucial to act FAST.

FAST is an acronym to help you remember the potential signs that someone may be having a stroke. At any one of these signs, act FAST and call 911 immediately so the person can be quickly evaluated and treated:

• F – Face Drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

• A – Arm Weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

 S – Speech Difficulty. Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

• T – Time to call 911. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Lawrence Memorial Hospital is certified by The Joint Commission as a Primary Stroke Center. This two-year certification recognizes the hospital’s stroke program as a center of excellence in providing primary care for stroke patients. LMH has demonstrated proficiency in identifying patients with stroke by emergency medical personnel while en route to the hospital, having CT scanners and technologists ready to receive patients upon arrival, diagnosing patients’ types of stroke, and administering proper treatment within 60 minutes of arrival.

LMH also has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines® – Stroke Silver Plus Quality Achievement Award. The award recognizes the hospital’s commitment and success in implementing a higher standard of stroke care by ensuring that stroke patients receive treatment according to nationally accepted standards and recommendations.

Ryan Jackson, director of the LMH emergency department, said, “With a stroke, time lost is brain lost, and the Get With The Guidelines award and our Primary Stroke Center certification demonstrate that our physicians and staff are committed to providing care that has been shown in the scientific literature to quickly and efficiently treat stroke patients.”

LMH offers a monthly stroke support group for those recovering from a stroke and/or their families and friends. The group meets from 4 to 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday, May 20, and generally the third Tuesday of the month at the hospital. For more information call LMH Therapy Services at 785-505-2712.

— Janice Early is vice president of marketing and communications for Lawrence Memorial Hospital. She can be reached at

Act FAST to minimize stroke damage

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