The other night, I was watching an episode of the TV program “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.” One of the tougher questions was what is the word you need to think of if you’re concerned that you or someone else is having a stroke.
The choices were FAST, STOP, and two others. I’d read about this, so I was surprised I couldn’t remember. The contestant chose to have two options eliminated, and he ended up with FAST and STOP. He selected the correct one, FAST, the one he had originally thought could be correct.
What does FAST stand for?
F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?
T – Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.
I was clear about face, asking the person to smile, and time, you need to get to the hospital immediately. But, it’s good to know the two others as well.
A stroke occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain or when a blood vessel in the brain burst. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Although number of strokes has gone down in recent years, the number of strokes in adolescents and young adults is increasing.
These conditions raise your risk for stroke at any age:
- Obesity. More than a third of Americans older than 20 are obese. Poor diet and lack of physical activity contribute to obesity and other conditions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
- High blood pressure. In the United States, about 77.9 million people, one out of every three adults, have high blood pressure.
- Diabetes. About one in 11 Americans have diabetes. Prediabetes – when blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes – is also on the rise among people older than 20. More than one third of U.S. adults have prediabetes.