Think FAST when it comes to stroke

The Vancouver Island Health Authority urges residents to know the signs of stroke and get help as quickly as possible

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability in Canada.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority urges residents to know the signs of stroke and get help as quickly as possible.

Quick diagnosis and treatment of a stroke changes the outcome for a patient; and knowing the warning signs of stroke can ensure that every second counts. Remember, think FAST:

  • Facial droop: one side of face does not move as well as the other
  • Arm drift: one arm does not move or drifts downward when held extended
  • Speech: patient slurs words, uses the wrong word, or cannot speak at all
  • Time: to call 9-1-1

The bottom line is, if you notice sudden loss of strength or numbness in the face, arm or leg; sudden difficulty speaking or confusion; or a sudden severe and unusual headache, call 9-1-1.

“If you treat stroke patients quickly, before there is irreversible damage to the brain, they can recover completely,” said stroke researcher and neurologist Dr. Andrew Penn. The miracle treatment is a clot-buster called tPA, which is a naturally occurring protein that breaks up blood clots. “If you remove the blockage, blood can flow freely again,” Penn adds.

The Vancouver Island Health Authority continues to build on its success. The Stroke Rapid Assessment Unit, which intervenes after people develop warning signs of impending stroke, has treated over 12,000 patients from the breadth of the island since 2005, sharply reducing hospitalization for stroke. Toronto and Calgary are among Canadian centres now replicating our model of care. The health authority is also leading a $10 million research project, SpecTRA, to develop a quick and easy blood test that could revolutionize the management of this disease.

For more information visit healthlinkbc.ca