KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — May is American Stroke Awareness Month and health experts across the country are raising awareness on how you can spot a stroke quickly.
Doctor Brian Wiseman, medical director at the Comprehensive Stroke Center at the University of Tennessee Medical Center, said the hospital tries to teach the community to BE FAST.
Here is what each letter stands for:
Balance: If the person's balance is off or they're uncoordinated, that tends to be a symptom of a stroke.
Eyes: Someone who's suffering a stroke could experience vision loss in one or both eyes or double vision.
Face: Typically, you would ask the person to smile and look for the corners of their mouth. If there is flattening of this fold from the nose to the mouth, that is another symptom or sign.
Arms: Ask the person to raise their arms and check if one is weak or numb or if one drifts downwards.
Speech: Slurred or incomprehensible speech can be a sign of a stroke.
Time: It is time to call 911 as soon as possible.
"We have treatments, that we can actually offer patients, that have significant impact on improving neurological function after a stroke and so that is why time is critically important," Wiseman said. "I cannot stress that enough. Getting to the hospital in a timely fashion so that we can start those treatments, if indicated, is critically important."
If you happen to be with a person who is having a stroke, doctor Wiseman said there are a couple of steps you could take to help emergency personnel and accelerate the process:
1. Call 911. Health experts say it is crucial to get in touch with the emergency department as quickly as possible.
2. Help responders collect information. Emergency personnel will want to know whether you were there with the person when they started showing symptoms and at what time you started noticing those symptoms.
3. Have a phone number of a relative of the person who had the stroke readily available.