Do You Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke? B.E. F.A.S.T.!
Stroke is one of the most common causes of death for Americans. According to the Centers for Disease Control, “someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds,” and “every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of stroke.”
Every second counts when it comes to getting emergency stroke care. Starting care as quickly as possible reduces the risk of death caused by stroke. It can also limit the risk of stroke causing other long-term damages to your health.
Strokes can impact anyone, at any time, of any age – that’s why it’s important to be able to quickly recognize stroke signs and symptoms.
Signs and Symptoms of Stroke
When learning the signs and symptoms of a stroke, remember to B.E. F.A.S.T.!
- B = Balance is suddenly lost.
- E = Eyes have a sudden change in vision.
- F = Face droops or feels weak.
- A = Arm drifts when lifting both arms.
- S = Speech sounds slurred or strange.
- T = Time to call 911 to get help as soon as possible.
If you suspect that you or a loved one is having a stroke, don’t drive yourself to the hospital – remember to call 911. EMS caregivers can begin life-saving treatment as soon as they arrive, and they will be able to get you to the hospital as fast as possible.
Who is at risk for a stroke?
Anyone can have a stroke at any age, but there are a few factors that may put you at higher risk. Some of these risk factors include:
- Older age. “For each decade of life after age 55, your chance of having a stroke more than doubles,” according to Johns Hopkins Medicine.
- Race. African-Americans and Hispanics are at higher risk of stroke and of death caused by stroke than Caucasians.
- Gender. Men and women are both at risk of stroke, but the American Stroke Society reports that “women have more strokes than men, and stroke kills more women than men.”
- Certain chronic conditions, such as high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.
- Having had a stroke previously or having a family history of stroke.
- Smoking or overuse of alcohol.
What can I do to prevent stroke?
Some stroke risk factors (like age and family history) are out of our control. But there are some healthy choices everyone can make to reduce their risk.
- Eat a healthy diet. A healthy diet with fruits, vegetables, lean meats and whole grains can help you keep cholesterol and blood pressure levels low.
- Exercise often. Getting enough exercise can also help lower your blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight. Experts recommend getting 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise per week – that breaks down to about 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week.
- Maintain a healthy weight. Obesity can increase your risk for stroke. Working towards a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help reduce your risk.
- Stop smoking. Smoking greatly increases stroke risk. If you have been smoking, there are many resources available that can help you stop.
- Limit alcohol intake. Too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. To reduce your risk, drink alcohol in moderation or avoid it all together.
Not only will these healthy lifestyle choices reduce your risk of stroke, but they can also help you improve your overall health and well-being.
Stroke Care at Cone Health
When stroke strikes, you need fast and effective treatment. Call 911 first. Then, count on our team at Cone Health to help you improve your well-being and prevent subsequent strokes. Learn more about stroke care at Cone Health at www.conehealth.com/stroke
About the Author
Jindong Xu, MD, PhD, is a Vascular Neurologist at the Stroke Center at Cone Health.