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Think FAST: Stroke is an emergency

May 16, 2012

The FAST scale can help prevent death and disability from stroke

FAST Stroke Symptoms.
Call 9-1-1 if you or someone you know experiences any of these stroke warning signs:
• Face droop

• Arm weakness or drift

• Speech difficulties (talking or understanding)

• Time – note the time of onset of symptoms and call 9-1-1


Other symptoms of a stroke include:
• sudden onset of confusion

• loss of coordination including walking or balancing

• numbness on one side of the body

• severe headache

• vision problems in one or both eyes

Nashville, Tenn., (May 16, 2012) Can you recognize a stroke? Your answer to this question may be the difference between life and death.

Stroke remains the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. Every second, 1.5 people will have a stroke and 15 of these people will die every minute. Stroke survivors often experience lasting and life-changing disabilities. Risk of stroke is even greater in Middle Tennessee, an area of the country known as the “Stroke Belt.”

During National Stroke Awareness Month, TriStar Centennial Medical Center, part of the TriStar Stroke Network, wants all Tennesseans to know the basics about stroke symptoms and the importance of getting medical care quickly. This simple information could prevent long-term health damage and maybe even save a life or two.

“Most of us can list the symptoms of a heart attack and know how important it is to seek medical attention immediately,” said Christopher Bachuss, neuroscience nurse practitioner at TriStar Centennial. “Recalling the symptoms of a stroke doesn’t come as natural for most us even though they are just as important for people to know. We want to help change that.”

The brain is very vulnerable. When someone experiences a stroke, blood flow to the brain is interrupted. Without blood, the brain doesn’t receive oxygen and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. That’s why it is so important to seek medical care quickly at the first signs of stroke.

“Every second - yes, every second-of an acute stroke will kill 32,000 neurons and several miles of the wiring of the brain (axons),” said Adrian Jarquin-Valdivia, M.D., neurointensivist at TriStar Centennial. “Early therapy can reduce the extent of the brain damage injury. The first step is early recognition of the symptoms.”

Someone may be having a stroke if their face is crooked or drooping, if they are having trouble lifting one or both arms in the air, or if their words are slurred or they are having trouble speaking.

“To save the brain, you need to think F.A.S.T.: Face-Arms-Speech-Time. It could save a life,” Bachuss said. “If you witness someone showing any signs of stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately to get them help. FAST.”

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, a time when the National Stroke Association encourages everyone to help raise awareness about stroke. For more information and resources to help spread the word about stroke, visit www.TriStarHealth.com/Stroke.

Celebrating 44 years of providing quality healthcare to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and the surrounding region, TriStar Centennial Medical Center is a 657-bed comprehensive facility offering medical and surgical programs including behavioral health, 24-hour emergency, heart and vascular, imaging, neurosciences, oncology, orthopaedics, pediatrics, rehabilitation, sleep disorder, and women’s services. An affiliate of the TriStar Health System, TriStar Centennial Medical Center is home to TriStar Centennial Sarah Cannon Cancer Center, TriStar Centennial Women’s & Children’s, TriStar Centennial Heart & Vascular Center as well as TriStar Centennial Parthenon Pavilion, one of the oldest and largest full-service psychiatric facilities in the region. Round-the-clock care is also available at TriStar Ashland City, a critical access hospital in nearby Cheatham County. The new TriStar Emergency Room at Spring Hill will provide 24-hour emergency care for nearby Spring Hill, Tenn., and surrounding communities when it opens in 2013. For more information about the services offered and health plans accepted by TriStar Centennial Medical Center or TriStar Health System, call TriStar MedLine at (615) 342-1919 or (800) 242-5662, or visit TriStarHealth.com and choose TriStar Centennial Medical Center. TriStar Centennial Medical Center is located at 2300 Patterson Street in Nashville.

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