There are three simple steps in determining if someone is suffering a stroke: Is the person's face droopy or lopsided? Is there weakness in one arm? Is speech slurred?
The three telltale symp-toms are encompassed in a public health acronym known as FAST — face, arm and speech and then timely response. It was developed in the UK in 1998 by a group of stroke physicians, ambulance personnel and an emergency room physi-cian as a means of alerting the public and medical staff to stroke symptoms.
"A stroke is not like a sudden heart attack," said Zhao Jing, a neurologist at Minhang District Central Hospital.
"Some people don't show obvious symptoms in the earlier stage of a stroke. Therefore, the chance for early intervention can be missed. On average, Chi-nese patients are about 15 hours late for treat-ment, which can lead to tragedies."
Every year, about 7 mil-lion people in China suffer stroke, with 1.5 million dying. Half of stroke pa-tients are between 40 and 64 years old.
Any person exhibiting one or more of the danger signals should be rushed to hospital immediately.
"If a stroke patient is treated within five hours after the symptoms show up, the prognosis is good," said Zhao.
If a person suspects himself of having a stroke, he should lie down and im-mediately call for help, she said, reminding people that a healthy lifestyle is the best way to prevent stroke.