Identifying Stroke Symptoms with the F.A.S.T. Method

Stroke symptoms, if identified early and treated, can prevent disabilities and deaths. Learn how to spot it and remedies for quick recovery.

Doctor with a patient at the clinic, explaining test results 

Strokes occur when blood supply to the brain stops, either due to a blood clot that blocks the blood vessel or bleeding of blood vessels in the brain. Once there is a disruption to the brain’s blood supply, the brain cells start to die. It’s important to identify stroke symptoms early, get treatment, and restore blood supply immediately to save lives and prevent disabilities.

Diagnosing the problem early and treating it as soon as possible is crucial in stroke patients. If given the right treatment within three hours, the patient can prevent the death of brain cells from occurring and reduce disabilities.

Tan Mei Ling, 68, was lucky that her teenage granddaughter had paid attention to a Red Cross Session on stroke symptoms in her school. She recounts, “I remember not feeling too well that day, feeling tired, which I thought was because I had worked hard to prepare for a family get-together. My granddaughter dropped in to see me and said my mouth was drooping on the left side. She immediately called the ambulance and took me to the hospital. They say if she had not acted quickly, I could have died.”

Upon reaching the hospital, doctors diagnosed with a clot in the brain and gave her a medicine that dissolves blood clots. The next day, her symptoms improved, and a week later, she was home just in time for the get-together.

F.A.S.T. Way to Identify Stroke Symptoms

A woman calling for help with a man lying on the road
If you think a person has stroke symptoms, call for help immediately.

A person may get a stroke at any time. The risk is higher in people with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and high cholesterol. Fortunately, identifying stroke symptoms is easy using the following test. Look for:

  • Face: Is there any weakness on one side of the face? Get the person to smile to make the weakness in facial muscles more obvious. You may notice the drooping of the mouth on one side.
  • Arms: Do both arms have equal strength? Request the person to raise both arms to check for weakness.
  • Speech: Is there any slurring of speech?
  • Time: If you observe any stroke symptoms, do not delay and immediately call for help.

Other stroke symptoms are dribbling from the mouth, numbness, blurred vision, sudden severe headache, difficulty maintaining balance, dizziness or feeling light-headed, and difficulty expressing themselves or understanding other people. It is essential not to overlook these symptoms.

Ahmed, 75, was not as lucky as Mrs. Tan. He had a headache and blurring of vision and thought he needed to change his spectacles. He waited for an appointment with his ophthalmologist to check his eyes. However, by then, it was too late. The ophthalmologist told him he had suffered a mild stroke a week back that caused him to lose vision in his left eye partially.

Eastern Medicine Point of View on Strokes

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), persons with deficiency of qi (vital life force), blood, and liver and kidney yin (passive energy) are also at a higher risk of stroke. Wind, fire, phlegm, and blood stasis can obstruct the body’s meridians, causing stroke symptoms like numbness, weakness, and slurred speech. 

TCM Physician Ng Qing Xiang gives some examples, “Wind-phlegm obstruction leads to a sudden onset of stroke, with symptoms such as drooping of mouth, slurred speech, leaking of saliva, joint pain, and stiffness in the limbs.”

“Phlegm-heat obstruction sets off typical stroke symptoms and other accompanying symptoms – for example, sticky phlegm, bloated stomach, and constipation. Meanwhile, qi deficiency with blood stasis syndrome results in weakness in one side of the body, pale face, breathlessness, diarrhoea, and fatigue,” she says.

Man lying face-down with acupuncture needles on his back
Acupuncture can help support the recovery of stroke symptoms.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle and preventing diseases such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity can help you recover from stroke symptoms and prevent further strokes in the future.

Recovery from Stroke

1. Healthy lifestyle

Take care of your physical health by getting adequate exercise and getting enough sleep. Keep your emotions and stress in control and have mental balance. According to TCM, you can consume a balanced diet by following the 5 colours of food; green, red, yellow, white, and black.

2. Acupuncture

Acupuncture also helps a patient to recover from stroke symptoms significantly. However, you should start the treatment early, ideally within the first 6 months.

According to Physician Ng, acupuncture can be an effective treatment to improve a patient’s body constitution with reference to their syndrome differentiation. “The acupoints Zu San Li (ST 36) and Guan Yuan (CV or RN4) address qi deficiency, while Feng Long (ST40) acupoint eliminates phlegm in the body,” Physician Ng notes.

3D illustrations showing 3 acupoints; the CV4 (Guanyuan), ST36 (Zusanli) and CT40 (Fenglong)
Acupuncture works in different ways to promote effective recovery from stroke.

3. Herbal remedies

Herbal remedies can help control high blood pressure and cholesterol. Mulberry leaves and chrysanthemum flowers tea helps reduce the heat in the body and control blood pressure.

According to studies, red yeast rice has been shown to lower cholesterol levels. While this supplement is a natural product, it contains the naturally occurring monacolin K, an active ingredient in Merck’s prescription agent lovastatin, which can cause various adverse effects. Thus, the Western medical community generally advises patients to use this supplement with caution.

However, there are products like RYRChol Capsules which are considered safe due to the removal of by-products causing the herb-drug interactions in natural statin. Additionally, the by-product is removed in a patented extraction process by Eu Yan Sang and Nanyang Polytechnic to ensure all safety standards are met.

People with high cholesterol levels can also consume tea with hawthorn berries as it helps digestion and lowers the fat content. However, they are not suitable for people with gastric problems, and pregnant ladies should avoid them.

By using the F.A.S.T. way to identify stroke symptoms and getting the right treatment plan for this disease, you can help your loved ones in times of need. Remember that patients with stroke respond very well if they receive immediate treatment. Above all, a healthy lifestyle and natural remedies are the best ways to help prevent strokes and to recover from them.

References

  1. British Red Cross. Learn first aid for someone who may be having a stroke. [Accessed on 1 December 2021]
  2. National Library of Medicine. 2016. Red yeast rice’ as a cholesterol-lowering substance? Caution is warranted. [Accessed on 1 December 2021]
  3. The Stroke Foundation. How do you know if someone is having a stroke? Think… F.A.S.T.  [Accessed on 1 December 2021]

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