May is Stroke Awareness Month, a time to learn about the symptoms that occur when blood supply to the brain is blocked, or a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
A stroke can lead to brain damage and death, and it is a leading cause of long-term disability. Any person, including children, can have a stroke at any time.
Common signs of stroke include sudden dizziness; trouble walking; loss of balance; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden severe headache; sudden numbness of the face, arm or leg; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding others.
An easy way to remember the most recognizable signs of stroke and how to respond is with the acronym FAST:
• F — Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Does one side droop?
• A — Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?
• S — Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is speech slurred or strange?
• T — Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Stroke is a medical emergency, and stroke treatment and outcomes depend on how fast you get to a hospital and the type of stroke you had.
Strokes are largely preventable with healthy lifestyle behaviors. High blood pressure is the single most important treatable risk factor for stroke.
To reduce your risk factors, maintain a healthy weight; eat nutritious food; be physically active; don’t smoke; limit alcohol use; and manage health conditions, especially high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and obesity. Consult your doctor for the best ways to reduce your stroke risk.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website and USPS Wellness LiteBlue page have additional information.
This information does not constitute medical advice. Individuals should consult a health care professional.