By now, you’ve probably heard about the dangers of having a stroke. The fifth leading cause of death, more than 795,000 people have a stroke in the United States every year. Stroke is also one of the biggest causes of long-term disability, and many survivors experience reduced mobility afterward. Though the risk of stroke increases with age, knowing the warning signs is one of the best defenses you can have against it. Knowing the signs and taking early steps for emergency treatment result in greater chance of survival. Here are the signs to watch out for.
The signs of stroke happen quickly, and symptoms are consistent in both men and women. If you suddenly begin experiencing any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 right away.
- Weakness or numbness in face, arm, or leg—especially if it’s happening on one side of the body
- Difficulty understanding speech or speaking, sudden confusion
- Difficulty walking, loss of balance and coordination, dizziness
- Vision impairment in one or both eyes.
- Severe headache
Again, if you suddenly begin experiencing one or more of these symptoms, call for help right away.
With Stroke, Think Fast and Act Fast
The above symptoms can be difficult to remember on their own, which is why you should memorize the FAST test. Fast action is important. This is because treatment works best when the stroke is diagnosed within 3 hours of the patient’s first symptoms. Here’s how to recognize the signs of a stroke with the FAST test.
- Face: Smile. Is one side of the face drooping?
- Arms: Raise arms. Is one arm falling or drifting downward?
- Speech: Repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or otherwise strange?
- Time: Time is of the essence. If you notice any of these signs, call 9-1-1.
Another important thing to note is the time the symptoms begin. Knowing this can help the patient receive the most effective treatment.
Though stroke is a relatively common occurrence, some people are more at risk than others. For example, being overweight or obese increases the risk of stroke. Preventative measures include maintaining a healthy weight and diet and getting 30 minutes of physical activity 5 days a week. Quitting smoking can also help reduce your risk of stroke.