Wednesday, 20 October 2010

F.A.S.T.

A COUPLE of weeks ago, my granddad had a stroke. It was a complete shock, as to me my grandfather has always been the strong one of the family, nothing could ever happen to him. He is recovering well (he could walk and talk immediately after) but not completely healed, but was in high spirits and good shape at a celebration for his and my gran’s Diamond wedding anniversary only a week after the stroke. He even gave a speech.

On Sunday, in the middle of church, a lady in the congregation had a TIA (a mini-stroke). She had plenty of people around her to help, many of whom had been with her during her recovery from a full stroke just a week before, and she was talking and joking very soon afterwards. The congregation, luckily, included several nurses and a doctor. I’m very glad she was OK, but it shocked me, reminding me of my granddad but also alerting me to the fact that I have no idea how to recognise a stroke or have any idea what you need to do in such a situation. This despite the fact that I’ve seen adverts explaining what to do everywhere.

To my shame I’ve never really read them. I know they say “Act F.A.S.T.”, but I had no idea what F.A.S.T. stood for. So, because you can never repeat something important often enough, I went away and found out, and decided to post it below. The acronym was chosen because the faster a patient experiencing a stroke is seen to, the higher the change of recovery. The letters stand for things to look for to recognise a stroke, and then act immediately.

F. Facial weakness – can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
A. Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms?
S. Speech problems – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?

If a person fails any of these tests…

T. Time to call 999.

Plenty more information at the Stroke Association website (www.stroke.org.uk)
The NHS have an Act F.A.S.T test here.

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