May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and its aim is to make each of us know that we may be able to save the life of someone experiencing a stroke.
Here are some important facts about stroke:
- Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death in this country.
- Stroke is one of the leading causes of disability in adults in the U.S.
- As many people have a stroke (795,000) as a heart attack (790,000) in the U.S. each year.
- High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for stroke.
- Stroke risk is two to four times higher among smokers than nonsmokers or those who have quit for more than 10 years.
- 80 percent of strokes can be prevented.
Most strokes are preventable through lifestyle changes such as managing blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar, as well as by being active, eating better, losing weight, and giving up smoking. And a large percentage of the strokes that happen are treatable with the right care, right away.
F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of a stroke:
- Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven?
- Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
- Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- Time to call 911. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you know when the first symptoms appeared.
F.A.S.T. is lifesaving. It's a matter of knowing what to do, taking action, and spreading the word to others.