Learn the signs of a stroke this American Stroke Month

May 3, 2018

This article was originally published in Daily Press.

May is American Stroke Month. The American Stroke Association and American Heart Association are encouraging everyone to learn the signs of a stroke. Stroke is currently the fifth leading cause of death of Americans, killing nearly 130,000 people each year. Stroke is also the leading cause of long-term disability and the leading cause of preventable disability in the nation.

Stroke happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Anyone can experience a stroke regardless of age, gender or race, so awareness is important for youth and adults. During a stroke the brain is deprived of oxygen and nutrients, which leads to brain cells to dying. The more brain cells that are lost, the more likely a stroke survivor is to have lasting disabilities from the stroke. Therefore, it is important to get help at the first signs of a stroke.

The sudden signs of stroke are easy to recognize by using the acronym F.A.S.T., which stands for:

F – Face Drooping: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?

A – Arm Weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech Difficulty: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is his/her speech slurred, or unable to speak? Is the person hard to understand? Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T – 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.

Additional stroke signs include: A sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding.

People experiencing a stroke need others to recognize the signs of stroke, as quick reaction can be the difference between full recovery and permanent brain loss. By learning the signs of stroke today, you may save the life of someone experiencing a stroke emergency.

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