Mon, Jul 18, 2016 - Page 3 News List

FAST action key to helping stroke victims: doctor

THREE-HOUR WINDOW:Neurologist Lin Cheng-huai said that many stroke victims are not seen by doctors until it is too late for thrombolytic agents

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Time is crucial in treating stroke victims, a New Taipei City neurologist said, urging the public to learn the “FAST” principle of strokes, as well as basic first aid, so medical treatment can be sought promptly.

“FAST” stands for “face, arms, speech and time.”

If a stroke is suspected, ask the victim to smile (face), raise both arms to the same height (arms), speak clearly (speech) — and then call an ambulance immediately (time) if the person is unable to do these things, En Chu Kong Hospital neurologist Lin Cheng-huai (林正懷) said.

The possibility of a stroke is about 72 percent if the person cannot do one of these things, and about 85 percent if the person cannot do all three, he said.

Lin said the first three hours after a stroke are crucial, as it is the best time to treat a stroke patient with thrombolytic agents, which improve blood flow and break up blood clots.

Acute ischemic strokes occur when blood traveling through an artery to the brain is suddenly blocked, causing the brain to be deprived of oxygen and immediate resumption of blood flow to the brain is necessary to avoid long-term injury, the doctor said.

Ministry of Health and Welfare statics showed cerebrovascular disease was the third leading cause of death by chronic diseases in 2014, following malignant tumors and heart disease.

En Chu Kong Hospital has a stroke center, staffed by neurologists 24 hours a day, but more than 80 percent of ischemic stroke patients treated at the hospital last year could not be given a thrombolytic agent because they were brought in more than three hours after their stoke, Lin said.

Hemorrhagic strokes occur more often in winter, while ischemic stroke often occur in summer due to dehydration, which causes the blood to thicken, he said.

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