Use F.A.S.T. to reduce stroke deaths, disabilities

By Nadia Crow

Published 05/01 2014 02:54PM

Updated 05/01 2014 06:17PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah)- Specialists at Intermountain Medical Center need your help to combat the third-leading cause of death. It’s stroke. It commonly happens when a blood clot blocks and artery or blood vessel stopping blood flow to the brain.

Each year about 600,000 new stroke cases are reported across the nation. But a catchy acronym F.A.S.T. can save more lives. It already helped save a 24-year-old St. George woman from death or long-term disability.

Ashley Irvin used to kick it like Mia Hamm at Idaho State University. Halfway into her college career, she learned she had heart disease. That ended her collegiate athletic career.

Just last year, Ashley suffered another blow at a family barbecue.

“I got this overwhelming feeling of being tired or fatigued and I put my hand on my head and my mom asked does she always do this to my husband and he said no not really. And that's when I can't remember what happened to me,” said stroke patient Ashley Irvin.

At the age of 23, Ashley Irvin had a stroke. Her mother acted quickly and called 911. It landed her in the ICU for a week.

“I just didn't know why I was in there and I was wondering what was going on and I couldn't speak,” said Irvin.

Ashley missed her best friend’s wedding. But the bride, groom, and bridal party made sure Ashley didn’t miss out by visiting her in the hospital.

“It made me not think about the stroke, not think about anything really. It was just all of us girls being back together again, being wild and stuff like that,” said Irvin.

Intermountain Medical Center Stroke Director Dr. Robert Hoesch says Ashley’s case is rare. Most stroke patients are elderly or have risk factors.

“Patients who are diabetic, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and patients who smoke are more likely to have strokes,” said Intermountain Medical Center Stroke Director Dr. Robert Hoesch.

Doctor Hoesch says you can use the F.A.S.T. test to see if someone near you is having a stroke. F is for face. Just ask the person to smile and look for drooping. The A is for arm.

“Put both hands up like you're catching rain,” said Dr. Hoesch.

If one arm drops, it’s likely a stroke. And the S is for Speech. Listen for slurring or no response at all. And the T is for Time.

“Getting to the hospital as soon as possible. We have good evidence that the faster you get there the faster you can get medications to treat the stroke,” said Dr. Hoesch.

Ashley’s road to recovery started with taking a drug called TPA. It starts breaking down blood clots and limits the long-term effects of a stroke. Dr. Hoesch says that’s why Ashley is here today.

“I feel like I’m very blessed, honestly,” said Irvin.

Copyright 2015 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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