BAKERSFIELD, Calif., May 2, 2023 -- Strokes can happen to anyone, at any age. Although about one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime, most adults in the U.S. don’t know the F.A.S.T warning signs of a stroke. May is American Stroke Month and the American Stroke Association is urging people to learn the signs of a stroke and how to prevent one.
“Our power is in knowledge and how we apply that knowledge -- starting today -- to defeat stroke,” said David Harrington, president and chief operating officer of Centre for Neuro Skills and American Stroke Association volunteer. “Recognizing the stroke warning signs and calling 911 immediately may make the difference between a strong recovery or long-term disability; survival or death. Having a stroke puts you at a higher risk for a second one, however, there are things you can do to reduce your risk, starting with identifying what caused your stroke and uncovering all your personal risk factors.”
The American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke® initiative, nationally supported by the HCA Healthcare Foundation, strives to teach people everywhere that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. The Association launched a F.A.S.T. public service announcement featuring celebrities touched by stroke, including actors Susan Lucci and Jennie Garth, NBA player Paul George and NFL player Bobby Wagner.
Here's how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.:
- Face Drooping - Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?
- Arm Weakness - Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm 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, like "The sky is blue."
- Time to Call 911 - If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get to a hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.
Nearly 1 in 4 strokes occur in people who have had a previous stroke, in some instances because they don’t know what caused the first stroke. Testing to identify a cause and additional stroke risk factors can help you and your health care professional to develop a plan to keep you moving forward after a stroke and prevent another one.
Controlling the risk factors for stroke is very important to prevent future strokes. Achieving and maintaining healthy numbers for blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol reduce the risk of another stroke.
“Lifestyle habits, including not smoking or vaping, limiting alcohol intake, eating a healthy diet, engaging in regular physical activity, getting healthy sleep and avoiding prolonged periods of sitting or lying down are important to preventing a secondary stroke,” Harrington said.
A stroke happens when normal blood flow in the brain is interrupted. When parts of the brain don’t get the oxygen-rich blood they need, those cells die. Stroke caused by clots are called ischemic strokes and are the most common. Another type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke; an intracerebral hemorrhage is bleeding from a ruptured blood vessel within brain tissue, and a subarachnoid hemorrhage is a rupture blood vessel surrounding the brain.
Treatment depends on the type of stroke someone is having, which must be diagnosed by a health care professional. Quick identification and treatment for stroke equals a higher chance of survival and recovery.
To learn more about stroke and Stroke Month visit stroke.org/strokemonth.
About the American Stroke Association
The American Stroke Association is a relentless force for a world with fewer strokes and longer, healthier lives. We team with millions of volunteers and donors to ensure equitable health and stroke care in all communities. We work to prevent, treat and beat stroke by funding innovative research, fighting for the public’s health, and providing lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based association was created in 1998 as a division of the American Heart Association. Connect with the Kern County office on heart.org/KernCounty, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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 V L Feigin; et al Global, Regional, and Country-Specific Lifetime Risks of Stroke, 1990 and 2016. N Engl J Med 2018; 379:2429-2437 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1804492
 AHA Ad Council Stroke Continuous Tracker September 2019, September 2021, April 2021, June 2022 Updated Aug 9, 2022
 C W Tsao; et al Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2023 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association Circulation. 2023; 147:e00–e00. DOI: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001123