In the United States, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing over 133,000 people each year. It is also a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. Stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age, sex or race. More women than men have a stroke each year, and women are twice as likely to die from stroke as from breast cancer.
The good news is that we now have many effective treatments for stroke. Time is critical! The earlier that a stroke is recognized and treated, the better it is for the patient. Recognizing stroke symptoms - and recognizing them as a medical emergency warranting a 911 call - can save a life and limit disabilities. Indeed, the life you save may be your own.
Use the FAST test to remember warning signs of stroke.
F = FACE. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARMS. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T - TIME. If you observe any of these signs, then it is time, right then and there, to call 911. Do not delay that call! The earlier treatment starts, the more effective it will be.
Why does acting quickly matter? A stroke is a brain attack that cuts off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain, thereby killing brain cells. Fast treatment can stop the stroke process, potentially saving a life and limiting disability.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. We encourage you to take some time this month to learn more about stroke. There are many excellent resources available - see the links below.