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Check Your Health: Strokes and why it’s important to 'BE FAST'

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Doctors say it's important to "BE FAST" when responding to symptoms of a stroke. (Photo: KUTV)
(KUTV) Strokes are more common in women than in men and can happen to young, active, healthy people. As part of National Stroke Awareness month, we walk through why it’s so important to know common stroke symptoms and get treatment quickly.


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When Austin Maxfield woke up on July 4, 2017, he realized something was wrong.

“I woke up really weak, feeling weak, and I noticed that my left arm wasn’t quite acting the way it should,” says Austin.

Having been a nurse for a long time, he really didn’t want it to be a stroke, but he knew it was important to get to the emergency room as soon as possible based on the acronym, “BE FAST.”

“BE FAST” stands for:

  • Balance – sudden dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • Eyes – sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Face – sudden weakness of the face or droopiness
  • Arm – weakness of an arm or leg
  • Speech – slurred speech or inability to understand what someone is saying
  • Time – time the symptoms started

“If you notice a sudden onset of any of the symptoms, call 911 as soon as possible. Time is of the essence,” says Dr. Megan Donohue, Medical Director of Intermountain Medical Center’s Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Getting to the hospital quickly means more treatment options will be available. Patients who get to the hospital within four hours can receive a clot-busting medication called TPA. If the blood clot is big enough, they can sometimes go in and remove it endovascularly.

“If we can see a blood clot on imaging, then we can likely go after it,” says Dr. Donohue.

In the past, this needed to be done within the first six hours, but just recently, that timeframe grew to 24 hours.

“That’s a huge expansion, and we can treat a lot more patients that way now,” says Dr. Donohue.

Getting help early not only prevents a stroke from getting worse, it can also prevent a secondary stroke.

“They put me on the proper medications so that everything that could be done, was done, so I wouldn’t have another stroke,” says Austin.

Austin thanks his quick treatment and therapy for his quality of life today.

“My life is not radically different than what it was before. It’s not very different at all because I came in immediately, got the treatment, got stabilized, and did not have another stroke,” says Austin.

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