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National Stroke Awareness Month: Identifying the Signs of Stroke

Recognizing Stroke Symptoms F.A.S.T.

Every year, strokes affect nearly a million Americans – and although stroke is a preventable and treatable condition, it is still one of the leading causes of disability and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Because every second counts when it comes to treating a stroke patient, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or CDC has designated May as National Stroke Awareness Month, encouraging everyone to spread awareness about the signs of stroke.

At Cullan & Cullan, our attorneys are also trained medical doctors, and we are dedicated to helping Phoenix residents stay informed about the signs of stroke. Since only 3 in 5 Americans report that they would know how to identify the symptoms, we’ve decided to offer a quick refresher guide on when you should seek emergency medical services. We also recommend using the CDC-provided acronym “F.A.S.T.” as an easy device to help you remember these signs.

F.A.S.T. stands for the following:

  • Face: Face drooping, particularly on one side of the facial plane, is one of the earliest signs of a stroke. To check for face drooping, ask the person to smile and see if one side of their mouth tends to curl or slope downwards.
  • Arms: As with face drooping, the arms and limbs on one side of the body tend to drop downwards during a stroke. This can cause a staggering, drifting, or slumping effect. If you notice this happening, ask the person to raise their arms and see if one arm drops down.
  • Speech: Because a stroke affects blood flow to the brain, speech and cognition may be affected during a stroke event. For some people, that means slurred words and nonsense sentences, whereas for others it means that they don’t sound as intelligible as they normally do.
  • Time: When some or all the previous conditions are present, it’s a medical emergency and time to call 911 or emergency services right away. The risk of a stroke leading to permanent disability dramatically decreases when the victim can get treatment within 3 – 4 hours – which means that quick timing could save a life.

Experts also recommend looking out for these other signs when they occur suddenly:

  • Numbness or weakness in the limbs and face
  • Trouble with walking or moving
  • Confusion, disorientation, or difficulty comprehending speech
  • Vision problems
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headaches

Armed with this knowledge, you could have a better chance of helping your loved one fight back against a deadly stroke – or reducing your own risk of impairment and death.

When Medical Providers Fail to Recognize Stroke

Although it’s important to know how to recognize the signs of a life-threatening stroke on your own, it’s also important to keep in mind that some strokes may still be exacerbated by medical malpractice. Medical professionals have a responsibility to accurately identify and diagnose stroke symptoms when you visit the ER or seek out urgent care services. They also have a responsibility to act urgently on behalf of stroke victims, because they should realize that any delays in treatment can lead to avoidable brain damage, cognitive problems, and disabilities.

Here are just a few of the other ways that a physician can contribute to stroke injuries and deaths:

  • Failing to administer the correct medication for blood clots during ischemic stroke
  • Avoidable delays in testing, diagnosis, or treatment for stroke
  • Overprescription or misuse of Heparin, a blood thinner that can lead to hemorrhagic stroke
  • Mismanagement of low blood pressure during surgery

When a doctor has failed to diagnose a stroke, made a serious prescription error, or unnecessarily prolonged the diagnosis and treatment process, you may be able to hold them accountable for your losses through a civil lawsuit. At Cullan & Cullan, it’s our goal to help victims of stroke seek compensation when another person’s carelessness has contributed to their injuries, and as both medical doctors and lawyers, we have the unique experience to assist you throughout the legal process.

Contact us at (602) 900-9483 for a free consultation.


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