Learn to Identify the Warning Signs of a Stroke
According to the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association, stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability. About 795,000 Americans each year suffer a new or recurrent stroke, according to the American Stroke Association. That means, on average, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds. Stroke kills more than 137,000 people a year. That's about 1 of every 18 deaths. It's the No. 4 cause of death. On average, every 4 minutes someone dies of stroke.
If someone is having a stroke, think and act F-A-S-T:
- F-Face: Watch for facial drooping. Ask the person to smile and see if one side of the face droops.
- A-Arms: Is their arm weak? Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S-Speech: Look out for slurred speech. Ask them to repeat a simple phrase, such as: "The sky is blue." Can he or she do it?
- T-Time: If you notice any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Even if the symptoms go away, still call for help.
Sometimes, severe headaches or vertigo (dizziness) can accompany a stroke but these symptoms aren't typical. However, a sudden change of vision associated with weakness, may signal a stroke.
Be sure to note the time that symptoms first appeared. And don't try to drive yourself or a loved one to a hospital. Call for an ambulance so treatment can begin immediately.
Symptoms occur suddenly. They differ depending on the part of the brain affected. Also, multiple symptoms can happen at the same time. If you notice any of the symptoms below, call 911 right away. Getting help immediately is important, because brain tissue dies quickly when deprived of oxygen.
- Sudden weakness or numbness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance, or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
If you are experiencing chest pain or any other emergency ... call 911 immediately.
To help reduce your chance of getting a stroke, take the following steps:
- Exercise regularly.
- Eat more fruits and vegetables. Limit dietary salt and fat.
- Stop smoking.
- Increase your consumption of fish.
- Drink alcohol only in moderation (1-2 drinks per day).
- Maintain a healthy weight.
- Check blood pressure frequently. Follow your doctor's recommendations for keeping it in a safe range.
- Take a low dose of aspirin (50-325 milligrams per day) if your doctor says it is safe.
- Keep chronic medical conditions under control. This includes high cholesterol and diabetes.
- Talk to your doctor about the use of a 'statin' drug. It may help prevent certain kinds of strokes in some people.
- Seek medical care if you have symptoms of a stroke, even if symptoms stop.
- Stop the use of recreational drugs (cocaine, heroin, marijuana, amphetamines).