BE FAST to recognize a stroke

Stokes can happen at any age and at any time. Learn the signs and symptoms during May, National Stroke Awareness Month

Every minute that passes after having a stroke could make the difference between full recovery, living with a disability, and death.

So, during National Stroke Awareness Month, the American Stroke Association is sharing the life-saving information everyone needs to know to recognize when they are having a stroke, or someone else around them is.

During a stroke, blood flow to the brain is blocked, usually because of a blood clot that has traveled to the brain. When this happens, brain cells begin to die, and functions controlled by the affected area of the brain are impacted. Every second that a stroke goes untreated 30,000 brain cells die.

Stroke is a leading cause of adult disability and the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States, the American Stroke Association reports. High blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke and is the main cause of increased risk of stroke among people with diabetes.

The risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for Blacks as for Whites, and Blacks have the highest death rate due to stroke, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

Black men are 70% more likely to die from a stroke than non-Hispanic whites, and black women are twice as like to have a stroke compared to non-Hispanic white women, according to the U.S. Office of Minority Health.

To improve outcomes, remember this simple acronym: BEFAST, which stands for:

  • Balance: Does the person have a sudden loss of balance?
  • Eyes: Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?
  • Face: Smile. Does the side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 911 immediately.

The American Stroke Association says 80% of strokes are preventable. Making these lifestyle changes can dramatically reduce the risk of stroke:

  • Lose weight.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Don’t smoke. If you do, quit.
  • Drink less alcohol.
  • Reduce stress.

Talk to your healthcare provider about your risk for stroke and plan to begin reducing that risk.

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