A stroke is a “brain attack.” It occurs when a blood flow to the brain is interrupted either because a clot blocks an artery or when a blood vessel breaks. The lack of blood flow to a portion of the brain causes cells to die and results in brain damage. How a stroke affects a person depends on the area of the brain where the stroke occurred. It may affect speech, movement or memory.
To honor National Stroke Awareness Month coming up in May, the National Stroke Association is striving to educate others to learn about risk factor management and how to recognize and respond to warning signs by acting FAST.
Stroke kills two times more women every year than breast cancer. About 795,000 Americans will suffer a stroke this year, yet most people in the United States cannot identify stroke warning signs or risk factors. Stroke is largely preventable.
Many strokes – some studies indicate that up to 80 percent – can be prevented through risk factor management. It helps to manage risk factors such as high blood pressure, obesity, alcohol consumption, smoking, high cholesterol, physical inactivity and diabetes.
Common stroke symptoms include:
• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body,
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding,
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes,
• Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination,
• Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Note the time when any symptoms first appear—this is valuable information to tell the health care team. Stroke is an emergency. It’s important to learn stroke warning signs and how to respond to them. Emergency treatment may be available if a stroke is recognized FAST and 9-1-1 is called. Use the FAST test to remember warning signs.
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