Detecting the symptoms of a stroke – also known as cerebrovascular accidents – in time is the most effective way to reduce the severity of the impacts it leaves.
Cerebrovascular attacks (CVA) were the second cause of death in Colombia in 2017 and it is estimated as the number one disability in the country. When they occur, the time to act and treat them effectively is minimal, estimated to be less than four hours. After this period, the impacts it leaves become greater, significantly increasing the percentage of those who suffer and die from them.
In order to identify these first symptoms, it is therefore important to know what their warning signs are, upon which imminent action must be taken. Many international campaigns seek to spread awareness about their symptoms in order to lower death rates and disability associated with this condition.
In the United States, for example, a campaign under the acronym FAST helped to teach people about the symptoms of stroke and the best way to recognize them. According to the National Stroke Association, with this strategy, between 1998 and 2008, deaths caused by stroke reduced by about 35%. This is what helped make this condition drop from the second cause of death in the U.S. to the fourth cause of death.
FAST is a simple strategy that is easy to remember and that can save lives.
F = FACE: A loss of sensitivity in the face. The best way to test this is to ask the person to smile.
A = ARM: A lack of strength in controlling your arm. Test this by asking the person to lift up both of their arms.
S = SPEECH: Difficulty expressing yourself in a coherent way. You can test this by asking the person to say a simple sentence.
T = TIME: This element is key to responding assertively to a stroke. If you notice any of these signs, call an emergency responder immediately. In Colombia, dial 123.
October 29 is World Stroke Day, an invitation to understand and assess what this disease is about.