When it Comes to Stroke, Think FAST

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke.

Because May is Stroke Awareness Month, UC Health physicians at University of Cincinnati Neuroscience Institute want you to know how to stop a stroke in its tracks.

A stroke occurs when a blockage stops blood flow to the brain, or a blood vessel near the brain bursts. This “brain attack” can occur in people of all ages – and it is currently the No. 5 cause of death in the U.S.

Know the Signs and Symptoms

Innovation at UC Neuroscience Institute continues to lead the way in stroke treatment.

The nationally adopted FAST mnemonic, used to help people quickly remember the signs of stroke, originated at the Comprehensive Stroke Center.

F – Facial numbness or weakness, especially on one side.

A – Arm numbness or weakness, especially on one side.

S- Slurred speech or difficulty speaking.

T – Time to call 911.

Other symptoms of stroke may include: severe headache, dizziness, loss of balance, loss of vision or double vision. Surprisingly, pain is not a frequent symptom of stroke.

Urgency Matters

The sooner individuals realize they are having a stroke, the easier it is to treat and prevent long-term damage. There is a three to four-and-a-half hour window for patients to receive the clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) – a drug that was developed by UC Health in the 1980s that remains the only FDA-approved treatment for ischemic strokes.

If patients receive the treatment in a timely manner, they will have a higher chance of recovering from a stroke. A significant number of stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time for tPA treatment; this is why it’s so important to identify a stroke immediately.

The Academic Difference

The Comprehensive Stroke Center is regionally recognized as a leader in stroke treatment. We provide on-site stroke evaluation for acute stroke therapy around the clock at 15 regional hospitals, as well as consultations at more than 20 additional regional hospitals.

Key program accomplishments include:

  • The UC Stroke Team was founded as the first multidisciplinary stroke team in the U.S. during the mid-1980s.
  • The center was among the first 50 in the U.S. to gain Joint Commission’s Advanced Comprehensive Stroke Center designation.
  • UC researchers played a leading role in developing and testing the clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator, or tPA, to treat acute ischemic stroke.
  • In 2012, UC Neuroscience Institute and UC Medical Center launched a major initiative to bring the expertise of the UC Stroke Team to partner hospitals through telestroke, the use of telehealth specifically for stroke care.
  • UC Health led the largest interventional stroke trial in the world, along with leadership of national treatment studies of intracerebral hemorrhage, genetic studies of intracerebral hemorrhage and aneurysms and the largest ongoing biracial population-based study of stroke in the U.S.
  • UC researchers also direct neurorecovery/neuroimaging studies in stroke recovery, participate in the major medical and surgical prevention studies and have an active translational laboratory studying preclinical models of stroke and cerebrovascular disease.
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