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May is Stroke Awareness Month

Learning how to spot a stroke is just as important as teaching your family CPR or what to do in the event of a fire. With stroke just like a cardiac arrest or a fire seconds count.  Stroke signs include: 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. Teaching people how to recognize a stroke and respond quickly is the primary goal. Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the nation’s No. 5 leading cause of death. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. For more information, visit StrokeAssociation.org¹.

Certain risk factors can increase your chances of having a stroke. If you have identified personal risk factors, work with your healthcare provider to reduce your personal risk. Prevent stroke happening to you or others by following these guidelines:

  • Identify. Review the risk factors and identify your personal risk.
  • Reduce your risk factors. Work to reduce your stroke risk through lifestyle changes and if necessary medication.
  • Recognize and Respond.  Learn to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke by memorizing FAST. Respond to the first sight of stroke and help save lives.

F.A.S.T. is:

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

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

S – Speech Difficulty: 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?

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.

Lifestyle risk factors such as diet and exercise are part of controllable risk factors. Lifestyle risk factors are habits or behaviors people choose to engage in. If changed, they can directly affect some medical risk factors² by improving them.