FAST test helps laypersons to identify a stroke
Every minute is important in a stroke. The sooner medical therapy is initiated, the better the prognosis. Many deaths would be avoidable if the disease was diagnosed early enough. Mostly it is medical lay people who witness a so-called brain infarction. Health experts explain how these can quickly recognize the seriousness of the situation and which symptoms point the way.
Around 270,000 people suffer a stroke in Germany every year. In many cases, the lack of knowledge about the symptoms of the cerebral infarction and their importance prevents the necessary and timely medical care for those affected. For quick, vital help, it is important to recognize the symptoms. The German Stroke Society (DSG) explains in a communication published by the idw - Informationsdienst Wissenschaft how laypersons, who are mostly witnesses of a stroke, can recognize the seriousness of the situation and which symptoms point the way.
A stroke is always a medical emergency
According to the DSG, a blood clot is usually to blame: in 85 percent of strokes, a cerebral artery is blocked by a blood clot, and the areas of the brain behind it are cut off from the blood circulation and thus damaged. The insult, as the stroke is medically called, is much less likely to result from the tearing of a blood vessel in the brain.
"Whatever the cause - a stroke is always a medical emergency," said Prof. Dr. med. Wolf-Rüdiger Schäbitz, press spokesman for the DSG and chief physician at the Neurology Clinic at the Bielefeld-Bethel Evangelical Hospital. Because with every minute that passes until the start of therapy, the risk of permanent damage increases. According to the information, up to 40 percent of surviving stroke patients still have permanent limitations.
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As the experts write, awareness of "Time is Brain" is now widespread among the population. Still, many people are unsure of how to recognize a stroke. "The so-called FAST test, which queries the most common stroke symptoms, has proven itself as a quick and suitable decision-making aid," explains Schäbitz.
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FAST stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time (face, arms, language, time): First, the person concerned is asked to smile (Face). If the face grows unilaterally, this indicates facial paralysis. In the second step, the person should stretch their arms forward and turn their palms up. In the case of - usually one-sided - paralysis, one arm cannot carry out the lifting and / or rotation. Finally, the person concerned is asked to repeat a simple sentence (speech). If this does not succeed or is only very vaguely, this should also be seen as a warning signal.
"If one of the three tests is noticeable, 112 must be dialed immediately", says Schäbitz - the fourth keyword "Time" should remind you that every minute counts. The FAST test is now an integral part of paramedic training. In order to make it known to laypeople, a video was created under the patronage of the DSG, which clearly illustrates the test and is intended to appeal to young people in particular. The video can be viewed on "YouTube", among others.
Efforts to educate people must not subside
Stroke-like neurological symptoms such as impaired consciousness, paralysis and severe headaches can also occur in patients with severe migraines or epilepsy. "In these cases, one speaks of stroke mimics," explains Schäbitz. In this case, too, you have to react quickly and activate the rescue system immediately - because it is best to clarify in the next stroke unit whether it is a stroke.
Establishing these wards, which specialize in the diagnosis and acute therapy of stroke, has been a main goal of society since the DSG was founded 18 years ago. Today there are almost all of them in Germany. "We have largely optimized the processes in the clinic from arrival to the start of therapy," said Schäbitz. The time until the Stroke Unit arrives, the so-called preclinical process chain, also needs to be further improved and actively worked on again and again.
“This is actually the greatest scope for successful treatment. And in this we are also dependent on the help and attention of every individual. ”The efforts to educate the population should therefore not be allowed to subside. (ad)
Author and source information
This text corresponds to the specifications of the medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by medical doctors.
- German Stroke Society: DSG: Fighting Stroke - Educating the population is a key element, (accessed: October 6, 2019), idw - Science Information Service
- Robert Koch Institute (RKI): 12-month prevalence of stroke or chronic symptoms from a stroke in Germany, (accessed: October 6, 2019), Robert Koch Institute (RKI)