May is National Stroke Awareness Month. At Enable Me, we work with many stroke survivors who remind us how important quick action is to ensure a more complete recovery and a fuller life following a stroke.
A stroke is a “brain attack” that occurs when blood flow is cut off from an area of the brain. The brain cells deprived of oxygen begin to die, and the abilities controlled by that area of the brain — such as memory and muscle control — are affected. How severely a person is affected by a stroke depends on where exactly the stroke occurs in the brain and how extensive the damage is.
The National Stroke Association stresses that it is important to know the signs of a stroke. The warning signs can be remembered easily through the acronym FAST:
- FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- ARM: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
- SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is speech slurred?
- TIME: Call 911 immediately if you observe any of these symptoms.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a major cause of long-term disability in the U.S., but it is also preventable and treatable. Eighty percent of strokes may be prevented by making lifestyle changes. Know your risk factors — family history, high blood pressure, smoking — and never assume that you are too young to have a stroke. Don’t ignore the symptoms, even if they go away after a short time.
About 7 million Americans are stroke survivors. Some recover completely, but more than two-thirds are left with some type of disability.
A stroke is a life-threatening emergency. Recognizing the signs and getting to the hospital as soon as possible can make a huge difference in how quickly and fully a person recovers.