Strokes affect more people than many think. According to the American Heart
Association/American Stroke Association, someone suffers a stroke every
40 seconds and someone dies of a stroke every four minutes. It’s
also the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. every year.
But it doesn’t need to be. In fact, the death rate from stroke has
fallen over the past 10 years as hospitals and other healthcare organizations
work together to increase awareness of the symptoms of stroke and the
need to get treatment quickly.
A stroke is to the brain what a heart attack is to the heart. In both instances,
blood flow is interrupted, causing cells and tissue begin to die within
minutes. That’s why getting treatment as quickly as possible is
critical for both heart and brain attacks.
Stroke can be caused either by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to
the brain—called an ischemic stroke– or by a blood vessel
rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain—called a hemorrhagic
stroke. A Transient Ischemic Attack, also known as a TIA or “mini
stroke” is caused by a temporary clot.
If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call
9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. F.A.S.T. is an easy
way to remember the sudden signs of stroke:
Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person
to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both
arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak
or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can
they repeat it correctly?
Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even
if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital
immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.
Beyond F.A.S.T. – Other Symptoms You Should Know
- Sudden NUMBNESS or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side
of the body
- Sudden CONFUSION, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden TROUBLE SEEING in one or both eyes
- Sudden TROUBLE WALKING, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden SEVERE HEADACHE with no known cause
The Stroke Center at FMH is designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the
Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Service Systems (MIEMSS). Fully
accredited by the American Stroke Association, the FMH Stroke Center has
Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award, and
Target: Stroke Honor Roll Elite recognition. To learn more about the Stroke Center at FMH, as well as the
stroke support services available, call 240-566-4884 or visit
“When you or someone you know is having a stroke, time is of the
essence,” said FMH Stroke Center Program Coordinator Tom Shupp.
“Our Stroke Team is dedicated to providing the very best stroke
care to our patients 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.”