May is here and in the United States that means it’s National Stroke Awareness Month. Every May health professionals use the month of May to try to raise awareness and prevent strokes. Strokes are the third leading cause of death in the United States, killing around 130,000 people, or one in every 20 deaths (according to the Centers for Disease Control). The CDC estimates around 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year, which is a sizable portion of the population. While strokes can happen suddenly, there are a few symptoms you should be aware about so you can prepare and understand if you are at risk for a stroke.
There are a few different types of strokes. Many Americans experience TIAs, or mini strokes. The symptoms for TIAs and regular strokes are the same, however the symptoms may go away on their own if you suffer a TIA. You should still seek help, however, because anyone who has had a TIA has a higher risk for a regular stroke within a few years of suffering the TIA.
People in poor health are most at-risk for a stroke. That includes anyone with high blood pressure, diabetics and those suffering from heart diseases. Smokers are also more at-risk because of the damage it can do to blood pressure and blood vessels. Drug users and those who are immobile are also more at risk.
Other factors can cause a stroke as well, like family or personal history. Younger people can suffer a stroke, but it’s most common among the elderly. Younger women are more at-risk if they use birth control, however.
Your diet can also cause a stroke. That includes people who have high cholesterol levels. Your mental health also may make you at-risk. Those who suffer chronic stress and depression can suffer a stroke as a result.
You may not know the symptoms of a stroke right away. Many of the general symptoms occur in both men and women. The fist sign of a stroke is a sudden numbness or weak/loss of movement in your legs, arms or face. A stroke is likely if the loss occurs on one side of the body. Another sign you may notice is a sudden, severe headache without cause.
Confusion is another symptom of a stroke. If the person is suddenly unaware of their surroundings or can’t understand simple statements they may be suffering from a stroke. The person may also have trouble with balance, including walking or standing upright. The person may become dizzy or suffer from blurred vision. The eyes may begin to twitch and he or she may have trouble swallowing.
The American Stroke Association is educating Americans what to look for in a stroke so that you can help someone if they suffer from a sudden stroke. The ASA has adopted F.A.S.T. as the acronym to use to help you learn common stroke symptoms. F.A.S.T. refers to:
- Face drooping. Ask the person to smile and if the face droops it may be a sign of a stroke.
- Arm weakness. Can the person lift both arms? Does one fall involuntary?
- Speech difficulty. Is the person slurring their words? Does their speech seem strange?
- Time to call 9-1-1. If the person is suffering any symptoms, call for help right away. It’s always better to error on the side of caution. If a stroke is diagnosed within the first three hours, there is a better survival and recovery rate.For more health tips and to learn about our air ambulance services like us on Facebook today!