Prompt action must follow stroke signs

May 20, 2012 at 11:42 PM

DALLAS, May 20 (UPI) -- Getting treatment quickly can make all the difference after a stroke, so it is important to be able to recognize the signs of stroke, a U.S. physician says.

Dr. Mark Goldberg of The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas said not enough people recognize the symptoms of a stroke, and as a consequence only 5 percent of stroke victims receive an effective clot-busting drug called tPA, which should be administered within 3 hours of a stroke.

Sudden problems with vision, walking and speaking are stroke indicators, as well as sudden paralysis, droopiness, or numbness on one side of the face or body, Goldberg said.

Another potential symptom of stroke is a sudden, severe headache that can be accompanied by vomiting or dizziness.

The neurologist said most strokes don't immediately render people unconscious, so many victims simply think they are tired and in need of a nap.

Stroke-victim advocates have developed the acronym FAST to describe both what should be done and when it should done. FAST stands for:

-- Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

-- Arms: Ask the person to raise their arms parallel to the ground. Does one arm drift down?

-- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or gibberish?

-- Time: If any of these symptoms are present, call 911 immediately.

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