May is stroke awareness month, which gives you a great opportunity to become familiar with the symptoms of a stroke. Sadly, while strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, millions of people are not familiar with the four quick and easy ways to recognize a stroke. Just remember the word “FAST”, recommended by the National Stroke Association:
F=Face, ask the person to smile. If one side of the face appears crooked or drooping, this person may be having a stroke.
A=Arms, ask the person to lift one or both of their arms in the air. If they have a difficult time with lifting one or both of their arms, this is a sign that they could be having a stroke.
S=Speech, ask the person to speak. If their words are slurred or they are unable to speak, they might be having a stroke.
T=Time. If any of the above symptoms are present, call 911 immediately.
Every second counts since a stroke is a “brain attack”. In other words, a stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, resulting in an interruption of blood flow to areas of the brain. When this occurs, brain cells begin to die and brain damage quickly ensues. Luckily, tPA is a potent treatment for stroke, but is not as effective unless it is given within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. Get educated and keep your or your loved ones safe from a stroke.