May is National Stroke Awareness Month: Know the Signs & Symptoms to Watch For and Act F.A.S.T.
May is National Stroke Awareness Month – a reminder that strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. Steward Health Care is committed to raising public awareness so all of our patients and communities understand the risks, warning signs, symptoms, and what steps you can take to prevent a stroke.
A stroke is a cerebrovascular disease that can affect a person’s mobility, speech, and in some cases results in death. A stroke occurs when a clot or rupture interrupts the blood supply to a patient’s brain. As a result, the stroke damages brain cells so they can no longer work properly, thus impacting the areas of the body those cells control.
Every year around 795,000 Americans experience a stroke. Although the risk of stroke increases with age, strokes can impact people of all ages and backgrounds. It is imperative to understand the signs of stroke in order to quickly get help and prevent serious disability. The most common warning signs include:
Weakness or paralysis in the face, arms, or legs: Many patients experience droopiness on one side of their face or sudden numbness in their arm or leg.
Trouble walking: Balance and coordination may be off, resulting in trouble moving.
Difficulty speaking: Speech may become slurred and hard to understand.
Vision loss, dizziness, or brief loss of consciousness: Patients may experience loss of sight or extreme light-headiness sometimes to the point of losing consciousness for a short period of time.
Many professionals advise using the acronym F.A.S.T. to identify the symptoms of a stroke: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 9-1-1.
Fortunately, there are a number of prevention measures to reduce the risk of stroke, and Steward Health Care encourages patients to consult a specialist to determine the best plan for implementing them:
Lower blood pressure: High blood pressure is the biggest contributor to the risk of stroke. Monitor your blood pressure closely and make healthy lifestyle choices.
Eat a healthy and balanced diet: A balanced diet that includes increased polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats and reduced salt intake.
Exercise regularly: Staying active contributes to an overall healthier lifestyle and lowers blood pressure, a contributing factor to stroke.
Avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol: Smoking accelerates the formation of clots, while excessive drinking has been proven through studies to increase your risk of a stroke.
If you are experiencing any warning signs of stroke please call 911 and if you would like medical advice to reduce the risk of stroke, we recommend visiting a Steward specialist. To find a specialist in our network, please visit Steward DoctorFinder™ or call 800-488-5959.