According to the Center for Disease Control, strokes claim the lives of nearly 130,000 Americans every year. In the interest of making that figure smaller, The American Stroke Association is hosting its annual stroke awareness month in order to educate people about the warning signs and risk factors associated with strokes, as well as preventative measures that can be taken to avoid these devastating health crises.
Throughout the country, many clinics and hospitals are offering free stroke screenings during the month of May in honor of stroke awareness month. These screenings consist of a battery of tests that assess a patient’s cholesterol, blood glucose levels, blood pressure, and body mass index in order to evaluate their risk of suffering a stroke.
Experts at the American Stroke Association are encouraging people to stay mindful of their diet and exercise regimens in order to reduce their chances of stroke. In addition, health officials are hoping to spread awareness of the F.A.S.T method used to determine whether or not a person is having a stroke. For those of our readers who are unfamiliar, F.A.S.T stands for the following.
Ask the person to smile. Are they able to do so evenly? Now ask them to stick out their tongue. Is it straight or bent to one side? Are they suffering from partial facial paralysis?
Is the person suffering from numbness in one arm? Ask them to raise both arms above their head. Are they able to raise both arms evenly at the same time, or does one fall below the other?
Can you understand the person when they speak? Is the speech slurred or distorted? Ask them to speak a simple sentence (e.g., It is sunny out today). Is the sentence coherent?
Time to Call 9-1-1
If the person displays any of these symptoms, call emergency personnel and get them to the hospital as soon as possible. Even if the symptoms subside, they should still go to the hospital. Take note of what time the symptoms began in order to establish an accurate timeline for doctors.
Want to learn more about stroke prevention and risk assessment? Check out the complete list of resources compiled by the partners at the American Stroke Association and American Heart Association here.