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Prevent Stroke: Know the Signs, Symptoms, and FAST Acronym for Early Detection and Treatment


Stroke is a severe medical condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It is one of the leading causes of death and disability and can strike anyone at anytime. In the Philippines, stroke is a significant public health concern, and knowing how to prevent and detect it early is essential.



What is a Stroke?

A stroke, also known as a cerebrovascular accident, is a medical emergency that occurs when there is a disruption in the blood flow to the brain. This can be caused by a blood clot or a hemorrhage, leading to brain damage and sometimes death.

There are two main types of stroke - hemorrhagic and ischemic. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain, leading to a lack of blood flow and oxygen to the brain.


Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

The signs and symptoms of stroke vary depending on the type of stroke and the part of the brain affected. Common signs and symptoms of stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body

  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking

  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

  • Sudden trouble walking or loss of balance

It is important to remember that these symptoms can happen suddenly and without warning. If you or someone you know experiences these symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.


FAST Acronym to Early Detect and Manage Stroke


FAST is an acronym for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. It is a simple way to remember the signs of a stroke and what to do if you suspect someone has it.

  1. Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

  2. Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

  3. Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

  4. Time: If you observe any of these signs, call for emergency medical help immediately.


What are the Risk Factors?

Many risk factors increase the likelihood of having a stroke. These include:

It is essential to manage these risk factors to reduce your stroke chances.


How to Prevent Stroke?

Preventing stroke starts with a healthy lifestyle. Here are some ways to reduce your risk of stroke:

  • Quit smoking

  • Exercise regularly

  • Maintain a healthy weight

  • Eat a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables

  • Manage chronic health conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol

How is it Diagnosed?

Doctors will conduct a physical exam to check for neurological symptoms to diagnose a stroke, followed by diagnostic tests such as a CT scan or MRI. Blood tests may also be done. A TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack) with similar symptoms to a stroke may also be diagnosed. Seeking medical attention immediately is crucial for prompt diagnosis and treatment to improve outcomes and reduce the risk of long-term disability.


What is the Treatment?

Stroke treatment depends on the type and severity of the stroke. If you are experiencing an ischemic stroke, doctors may use medication to dissolve blood clots or a procedure to remove the clot. In the case of a hemorrhagic stroke, surgery may be necessary to stop the bleeding.

Rehabilitation is also an essential part of stroke treatment. This can include physical, speech, and occupational therapy to help regain function and prevent further disability.


Conclusion

A stroke is a severe medical emergency that can cause death or long-term disability. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, managing risk factors, and seeking medical attention immediately can help prevent stroke and minimize its effects. Remember to follow a healthy lifestyle, and if you suspect a stroke, use the FAST acronym to detect and manage it quickly. Stroke can be treated, and rehabilitation can help you recover and regain function.

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