Learning ‘FAST’ Response to Stroke Urged by American Heart Association

People who don’t go to the hospital via EMS reduce the odds of getting the best treatment for stroke, according to recent American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With The Guidelines-Stroke data.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association in Houston, Texas have joined others across the nation and the world to encourage people to save lives by responding promptly to stroke. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and second leading cause of death globally.

“Getting help quickly for stroke is more important than anything else you may be doing or have planned,” said Dr. FIRST NAME Dannenbaum, INSERT TITLE, ORG and American Heart Association/American Stroke Association volunteer. “Whether you are the one experiencing symptoms or you see them in someone else, remember that stroke won’t wait, and neither should you.”

People reported varying reasons for delaying stroke treatment in an informal survey of American Stroke Association website visitors:
Several hoped symptoms would resolve on their own.
Many had other priorities, including finishing work, meeting up with family or even a scheduled hair appointment.
Some expressed an outdated, fatalistic view of the disease.

“Looking back, the right response is clear, but in the moment, doubt and denial are natural responses to stroke signs and can lead to bad decisions,” said Dr. Dannenbaum.

“The heart-breaking thing is that for many of these patients, we might have been able to decrease disability if they would have gotten to us sooner and by ambulance.”

Many ischemic strokes, which account for 87 percent of all strokes and are caused by an obstruction of blood flow to the brain, can be treated with the clot-busting medication tissue plasminogen activator (IV r-tPA/alteplase) and a stent retriever device that removes the clot. Research has shown that 91 percent of eligible stroke patients treated with IV r-tPA and a stent retriever in two and a half hours or less had minimal or no disability.

“The same person who would have suffered a severely disabling or fatal stroke a few years ago now commonly walks out of the hospital a few days later,” said Dr. Dannenbaum. “Decades ago there were no treatments for stroke. Now we have therapies that may interrupt even the most severe and disabling stroke if we can get to it in time.”

Through Together to End Stroke, nationally sponsored by Medtronic, the American Stroke Association teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. as an easy way to remember the most common stroke warning signs and how to respond: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911. For more information on stroke treatment and World Stroke Day resources, visit StrokeAssociation.org.

Each year, thousands of Houstonians come together at the American Heart Association /American Stroke Association annual Houston Heart Walk to join in the fight against heart disease and stroke, the nation’s No. 1 and No. 5 killers. Through events like the Houston Heart Walk, the AHA is able to raise funds to support important stroke and heart disease research. This year’s Houston Heart Walk will take place on Nov. 5 in the Texas Medical Center.

About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is devoted to saving people from stroke — the No. 2 cause of death in the world and a leading cause of serious disability. We team with millions of volunteers to fund innovative research, fight for stronger public health policies, and provide lifesaving tools and information to prevent and treat stroke. The Dallas-based association was created in 1997 as a division of the American Heart Association. To learn more or to get involved, call 1-888-4STROKE or visit StrokeAssociation.org.

The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association receives funding mostly from individuals. Foundations and corporations donate as well, and fund specific programs and events. Strict policies are enforced to prevent these relationships from influencing the association’s science content. Financial information for the American Heart Association, including a list of contributions from pharmaceutical companies and device manufacturers, is available at www.heart.org/corporatefunding.