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Know the Facts

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Stroke is the third leading cause of death, and the number one cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. Approximately 795,000 people nationwide suffer a stroke each year.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted or drastically lessened, depriving the brain of oxygen. Brain cells begin to die within minutes. It is a medical emergency, but early action can help minimize brain damage.

Signs of a Stroke

It is important to recognize the signs of a stroke and there is an easy way to remember them.

Use the phrase BE-FAST to prompt your memory:

B Balance – Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination? Is the individual having trouble walking or feeling dizzy all of a sudden?
E Eyes – Is there a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes? Is there new blurred or double vision?
F Face drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile and notice if the smile is uneven.
A Arm weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Can the individual raise both arms? Does one drift downward?
S Speech difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or difficult to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, such as, "The sky is blue."" Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T Time to call 9-1-1. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the individual to the hospital immediately. Note the time the symptoms first appeared. Immediate medical attention may help reduce any long-lasting impairment that may be caused by a stroke.

In addition to the symptoms above, be aware of other signs that may indicate a stroke. If any of these occurs suddenly, immediately summon help.

  • Weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially if it is only on one side of the body
  • Confusion, trouble understanding speech
  • Severe headache with no known cause

Risk Factors for Stroke:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Heart Disease
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Physical inactivity or Obesity
  • Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
  • Family history of stroke
  • Previous TIA or Stroke