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Act FAST to identify stroke symptoms

CT SCanAs we recognize May as National Stroke Awareness Month, Hardin Memorial Health wants to encourage our 10-county service area to “Act FAST” to identify a suspected stroke victim.

FAST an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke. The acronym stands for:

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase like “chicken noodle soup”. Is their speech slurred or strange?
Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Utilizing the FAST method is essential because every second counts when a stroke occurs. Around 800,000 people will have a stroke in the U.S. this year, and more than 130,000 of those will die. The quicker a person receives care, the more likely to lead to a better recovery.

Hardin Memorial Health is a Primary Stroke Center, a designation provided by the American Heart and American Stroke Associations that recognizes centers for following the best practices for stroke care.

Jamie Wilkerson, HMH’s Director of Critical Care and Cardiovascular Services, said that it takes teamwork and dedicated professionals to maintain that designation.

“As a Primary Stroke Center, we make sure we have a consistent collaboration with providers, Emergency Department staff, EMS agencies, and more,” Wilkerson said. “That teamwork, coupled with our rapid response times and skilled healthcare professionals, all work together to elevate our level of care.”

Also, as soon as any stroke symptoms are recognized, HMH encourages calling 911. Emergency Medical Services can provide life-saving, immediate care before a patient can get to the hospital. A delay could affect treatment and recovery.

In the last decade, the number of young Americans (those younger than age 45) hospitalized due to stroke has risen 44 percent. Educating everyone on stroke symptoms is critical, and the first step to saving lives.

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