Stroke Awareness Month: Signs and Risk Factors

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May hosts Stroke Awareness Month in an effort to raise awareness about warning signs, risk factors, outcomes, and what to do in the event of this medical emergency. A stroke is a serious occurrence that one experiences when the blood supply to their brain is suddenly interrupted. When the cells in the brain become deprived of the oxygen needed to survive, brain damage and possible fatal outcomes can follow. Time is of the essence, and it is important to be aware of the signs of a stroke.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • Numbness/weakness on one side of the face, arm, or leg
  • Headache
  • Decreased vision
  • Loss of balance
  • Impaired speech
  • Difficulty processing/understanding

As a way to help individuals respond quickly, the acronym BE FAST is used as a guide.

B – Balance is off, dizziness or headache are present

E – Eyes are experiencing blurred vision

F – Face is drooping on one side

A – Arms or legs weakness

S – Speech difficulty

T – Time to react and call 911

The aftermath of a stroke varies from person to person as impacts depend upon which area of the brain was affected and to what degree it was compromised. Physical, cognitive and emotional changes including paralysis, incontinence, muscle weakness, difficulty swallowing, seizure, memory loss, difficulty expressing oneself through speech or writing, difficulty understanding speech, reasoning difficulties, depression and more can result to varying degrees. There are certain risk factors that can increase one’s risk of having a stroke.

Risk factors for experiencing a stroke include:

  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Obesity
  • Age
  • Diabetes

While these and other factors can increase one’s potential for experiencing a stroke, this occurrence can happen to anyone at any time. It is important to take preventative measures to decrease your risk, be aware of the signs of a stroke and seek immediate medical care should those symptoms arise. A stroke is a serious medical emergency requiring immediate attention and action. 

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