AUSTIN (American Heart Association) – May is National Stroke Month, and knowing the warning signs of a stroke may be the difference between recovery and disability.
Here’s how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:
Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “the sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
TIME TO CALL 9-1-1
If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Keep an eye out too for these additional sudden symptoms that might indicate stroke:
Sudden NUMBNESS or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
Sudden CONFUSION, trouble speaking or understanding speech
Sudden TROUBLE SEEING in one or both eyes
Sudden TROUBLE WALKING, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Sudden SEVERE HEADACHE with no known cause
By learning and sharing the F.A.S.T. warning signs, you just might save a life from stroke. Stroke is preventable, treatable and beatable.
Remember, up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by not smoking, making healthy food choices, getting enough physical activity, maintaining a healthy weight and treating conditions such as high blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure.
High blood pressure is the single most important risk factor for stroke because it’s the leading cause of stroke. Normal blood pressure is below 120/80. If you have been told you have high blood pressure, work with your doctor to reduce it.
Irregular heartbeat — known as atrial fibrillation or AFib — causes your heart’s upper chambers to quiver, rather than beating in an organized, rhythmic way, and this increases your risk of stroke five times. The fluttering of your heart may cause blood to pool and clot, and those clots can travel to your brain. Managing AFib is key to reducing your stroke risk.
Having diabetes more than doubles your risk of stroke. Every two minutes, an adult with diabetes in the U.S. is hospitalized for stroke. Work with your doctor to manage your diabetes and reduce your risk.
High cholesterol increases the risk of blocked arteries. If an artery leading to the brain becomes blocked or throws a clot, a stroke can occur. If you have high blood cholesterol, work with your doctor to get it under control.
Smoking damages blood vessels, leading to blockages and stroke. Don’t smoke and avoid second-hand smoke.
For more on stroke and recovery click here.