Millburn Stroke Survivor's Advice: Know How To Act F.A.S.T.

By Ruth Kirshner
On May 2, 2016 I started my morning as usual with dropping my daughter off at school, doing a few things around the house and then going to a fitness class at my local gym. About 45 minutes into the class, my instructor noticed that the left side of my face was drooping.
I didn’t know it then, but I was experiencing the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Oct. 29 is World Stroke Day, a day where we should talk about stroke and spread awareness. It is imperative that we educate ourselves and those around us regarding the signs, symptoms and various risk factors that increase the likelihood of suffering a stroke.

In my case, 911 was immediately called and the Millburn-Short Hills Volunteer First Aid Squad arrived at the gym within minutes to bring me to Overlook Medical Center. Within one minute of my arrival I was met and assessed by Dr. Gary H. Belt of the Stroke Center at Overlook Medical Center and his team. I later learned that the Overlook is immediately alerted when a stroke patient is on the way, and a team made up of specially trained nurses, a stroke neurologist, two residents and a pharmacist is quickly assembled.
Dr. Belt and his team were able to give me a clot-busting drug within 16 minutes of entering the ER, saving invaluable time. After I received the clot-busting drug, I underwent a procedure to remove the clot from my brain and was able to return home just two days later.
Thanks to an instructor who knew to act F.A.S.T. and the team at Overlook, I’m back to my normal life spending time with my family and working as an attorney. I’m sharing my story to better help people understand how recognizing the signs of a stroke and acting quickly can save a life.

Recognize the signs of a stroke and act F.A.S.T.:
F=FACE, loss of function on one side of your face, which may look like drooping
A=ARMS, sudden weakness on one side, which may mean you can’t hold the arm up
S=SPEECH, as in slurred speech
T=TIME, time to call 911

The risk factors of a stroke:
• Smoking/Tobacco
• Alcohol
• High blood pressure
• High cholesterol
• Overweight/Unhealthy diet
When it comes to having a stroke, quickly recognizing the signs and symptoms and calling 911 to receive immediate medical attention are both extremely important steps to improving the odds of a successful recovery.
This is something that I learned the day that I had my stroke.

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