By Mirian Medina, RN
Every year as part of Raritan Bay Medical Center’s community outreach efforts, done in conjunction with the American Heart Association’s National Go Red for Women day (held on the first Friday of February), the medical center provides free blood pressure screenings and stroke information on “Go Red” day.
Stroke education is important because too many women die or become disabled each year from stroke and heart disease, the number four and number one killers of women. As proud supporters of the “Go Red” campaign, we want to spread the word to women about living heart healthy, getting regular heart screenings and identifying stroke.
Stroke symptoms come on suddenly. When they occur, it’s important to get medical help quickly. Fast action can reduce your chance of death or serious disability, such as paralysis. Be prepared by remembering FAST. The clot-busting drug TpA can reduce a stroke’s after-effects. But TpA is only effective when administered within three hours of onset of symptoms of the most common kind of stroke, so individuals should get to the hospital quickly. The acronym FAST can be a very helpful reminder of how to identify stroke, remember these tips:
F is for facial drooping. Your face feels numb or frozen, especially on one side.
A is for arm weakness, especially on one side.
S is for speech problems. You can’t speak or understand properly.
T is for time to call 911; the faster you get treatment, the less damage to your brain.
Phone 911 or have someone call an ambulance for you immediately, even if your symptoms disappear. You could be having a transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke. This is a warning sign that you might have a full stroke. Treating TIA may help prevent a stroke in the future. Also, be aware that women are more likely than men to report unusual stroke symptoms, such as sudden nausea or pain in the face, arm, or leg. For more information, call 1-732-324-4970.
Mirian Medina is Raritan Bay Medical Center’s stroke center coordinator. RBMC is a New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services designated primary stroke center and a recipient of the 2012 American Heart Association’s Get with the GuidelinesSM – Silver Plus Stroke Performance Achievement Award.