Stroke Awareness – Warning Signs & Prevention

May is American Stroke Month. As the fourth greatest cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, it is vitally important that we all take the proper precautions to prevent stroke and/or educate ourselves on how to respond when it unfortunately strikes.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is blocked or ruptures. When this blood flow is interrupted and part of the brain doesn’t receive the blood it needs, that part of the brain and its cells start to die. Therefore, when someone is having a stroke, a quick response is absolutely critical to minimizing the long-term effects and preventing death. That’s why it’s important to Act FAST.

Act FAST is a fitting acronym for remembering the typical tell-tale signs of stroke including face drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulty. Other symptoms of stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss or balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you ever suspect someone is having a stroke or notice someone showing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Emergency medical attention is crucial for a stroke victim’s recovery and potentially their life. There are proven, effective treatment options available for stroke – but they are most effective when intervention happens quickly.

The good news is that if you or someone you love suffer from a stroke, St. Mark’s Hospital is thoroughly prepared to treat and care for stroke patients with proven best practices. St. Mark’s Hospital is a Primary Stroke Center, as certified by the Joint Commission, and has also achieved the American Stroke Association’s Get with the Guidelines® Gold Plus Achievement for Stroke Treatment.

The other good news is that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. By managing key risk factors for stroke including high blood pressure, cigarette smoking, atrial fibrillation and physical inactivity, you can reduce your risk of stroke. Work with your healthcare professional to manage your individual risk of stroke, and stay informed on warning signs so that you are always prepared in the event of an emergency.


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