Commentary: Stroke warning signs

In recognition of National Stroke Awareness Month, Saint Francis Healthcare urges community members to “BE FAST” in identifying symptoms of stroke to reduce the risk of death and disability.

According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the number one cause of disability and fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, with a stroke occurring every 40 seconds. A stroke occurs when a blood clot or artery rupture prevents blood and oxygen from getting to the brain.

“BE FAST” was recently updated from “FAST” by the American Stroke Association — to act quickly during a stroke. A stroke may produce the following symptoms and requires immediate medical attention:

B – Balance Loss
E – Eyesight Loss
F – Facial Drooping
A – Arm Weakness
S – Speech Difficulty
T – Time to call 911

Stroke is the number-one cause of disability in adults in the United States. If not treated immediately, stroke has the potential to lead to long-term health problems — the quicker a stroke is diagnosed and treated, the more we can decrease the level of disability and improve chances of recovery for stroke survivors.

Certain lifestyle factors and conditions, such as smoking and high blood pressure, can increase the risk of stroke. While men 65 and older are at the greatest risk for stroke, a stroke can affect a person at any age. Despite the prevalence of stroke, fewer than one in five Americans can correctly classify all stroke symptoms.

Mahnia McMullen, RN
Stroke program coordinator
Saint Francis Healthcare

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