Think F.A.S.T. to survive a stroke


Oct. 29 is World Stroke Day, and Rome Memorial Hospital is reminding neighbors to learn the signs of stroke to help save a life.

Think F.A.S.T. to survive a stroke.

“Think F.A.S.T. and call 911 for the best chance to survive a stroke, even during a pandemic,” said Juleen Qandah, medical director of Rome Hospital’s Stroke Program.

According to recent studies, patients have been delaying life-saving emergency treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic which is impacting survival and recovery.

“Hospitals have protocols in place to protect patients from infection and are the safest place to be, especially if you are having a stroke, heart attack or other medical emergency,” said Dr. Qandah, who specializes in emergency medicine.

There is a narrow time window that clot-busting medications can be administered to patients who have a blocked blood vessel in the brain.

According to new research published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, stroke patients are arriving to hospitals an average of 160 minutes later during the COVID-19 pandemic, as compared with a similar timeframe in 2019. The study also found a marked 25 percent decrease in overall reported stroke patients. 

“When it comes to stroke treatment, every minute counts. We need to restore blood flow to the brain as quickly as possible to reduce the risk of paralysis and death,” said Dr. Qandah. “Call 911 at the first sign of stroke symptoms.”

According to the state Community Health Indicator Reports, the stroke mortality and hospitalization rates in Oneida County were already significantly higher than the state average. 

“In addition, pre-transport mortality rates were also nearly twice state averages, suggesting that the community may not recognize the early warning signs of a stroke,” Dr. Qandah said.

“If you’re having a stroke, it’s critical that you get medical attention right away.”

If you think someone is having a stroke, think F.A.S.T., and call 911.

Face drooping on one side or numb

Arm weakness

Speech that’s slurred, difficulty speaking

T stands for time to call 911, even if the symptoms go away.

Additional symptoms of stroke include sudden numbness, sudden confusion, sudden trouble walking or sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Even if symptoms go away, Dr. Qandah encouraged people to seek medical attention.

“When there’s a temporary blockage of blood flow to the brain, you may have a mini-stroke that’s known as a transient ischemic attack,” she explained. “Mini-strokes are a major warning sign of a potentially devastating stroke ahead.”


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