May is National Stroke Awareness Month. This is an important observance because stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of severe disability. Approximately 60% of people who die from stroke are women, and women tend to have worse functional outcomes after experiencing a stroke. Living a healthy lifestyle (e.g., being physically active, eating more fruits and vegetables and foods low in sodium and salt, maintaining a healthy weight, and avoiding smoking) can reduce the chances of having a stroke. Properly managing certain medical conditions (e.g., high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, and diabetes) also can lower the risk.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stroke is preventable and largely treatable. Here’s what the CDC says you should know about the signs and symptoms of a stroke:
Signs of Stroke in Men and Women
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.
Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke
When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts. Just as putting out a fire quickly can stop it from spreading, treating a stroke quickly can reduce damage to the brain. If you learn how to recognize the telltale signs of a stroke, you can act quickly and save a life—maybe even your own.
Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments(https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/treatments.htm) they desperately need. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:
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. Is the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
Note the time when any symptoms first appear. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.
–Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention