Don’t make the mistake of thinking that it’s not likely to happen to someone you know, and right before your eyes. Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States, and someone dies of stroke every four minutes, according to the CDC. Even when a stroke doesn't kill its victim, it is a significant source of disability in the U.S. Strokes are responsible for causing reduced mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.
The good news is that there are simple, easy-to-remember steps you can take to quickly identify when someone is having a stroke. And “quickly” is the key to survival and improving the victim’s odds of a better outcome: when treatment can be administered within three hours of the brain attack event (the onset of stroke symptoms), the chances of survival and recovery is significantly greater, thanks to a drug known as a tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) given intravenously to those diagnosed with ischemic stroke. But the American Stroke Association (ASA) tells us that, unfortunately, only one in fifty stroke patients can be helped with tPA, simply because less than three
What causes a stroke?
- a blood clot suddenly blocking the blood supply to the brain (ischemic stroke); or
- a blood vessel inside the brain bursting (hemorrhagic stroke).
Primary symptoms of brain stroke – Remember “sudden”
- 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.
Stroke symptom cheat sheet – think F.A.S.T
- Face Drooping – one side of the face droops or is numb. To check: ask the person to smile.
- Arm Weakness – one arm is weak or numb. To check: ask the person to raise both arms and note if one arm drifts downward.
- Speech Difficulty – speech is slurred, garbled, or the victim is unable to speak, or is hard to understand. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Can they repeat it correctly?
- Time to call 911 – Do not wait to see if the person shows all of these symptoms. If they show just one symptom, even if the symptom goes away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Remember: this is a pass/fail test – any one of the symptoms means it’s time to get medical attention, FAST. This is important because fast treatment often makes a remarkable difference in recovery.
Is stroke prevention possible?
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease
- A previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA)