If it’s a Stroke – Think FAST!

May 19, 2015

May is Stroke Awareness Month and the Stroke Rehab Team at Helen Hayes Hospital would like to share some stroke education with you!

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. The blood carries oxygen that is essential for the cells of the brain to function. The cause of this block can be due to either a clot, which is called an Ischemic Stroke or a ruptured vessel, which is called a Hemorrhagic stroke.
Ischemic strokes account for 87% of all strokes.

Each year there are about 800,000 new or recurrent strokes. A stroke occurs every 40 seconds and sadly every 4 minutes someone dies from a stroke. Since a stroke can occur to anyone at any time, it is important to recognize the warning signs. Research shows that too few people know what a stroke is or how to recognize the symptoms when it’s happening. The most common stroke symptoms include:

  • Sudden and severe headache
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness
  • Trouble walking
  • Sudden confusion
  • Trouble speaking
  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg.

If you think you or a loved one is having a stroke there are steps from the National Stroke Organization that you can follow. You want to act FAST and call 911.

Use FAST to remember the warning signs:

Think F-A-S-T

  • F= Face: Ask the person to smile, does one side of their face droop?
  • A= Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms, does one arm drift downward?
  • S= Speech: Ask the person to speak a simple sentence, is their speech slurred or strange?
  • T= Time: Call 911 immediately if you notice any symptoms of a stroke

There is good news!
According to the National Stroke Association, stroke has dropped from the nation’s 4th leading cause of death and is now ranked at the Nations 5th ! This drop is significant and may indicate that prevention and intervention efforts are making a difference.

The National Stroke Association recommends the following guidelines to help people reduce their stroke risk:

  • Know your blood pressure and have it checked at least annually.
  • If it is elevated, work with your health care professional to control it.
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation (A fib), which is a type of irregular heartbeat. If you do, work with your health care professional to manage it.
  • If you smoke, Stop.!

80 % of all strokes can be prevented!

-Stroke Rehabilitation Team