Strokes are one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Approximately 800,000 people suffer strokes each year, and almost 130,000 of those victims die. According to the experts at stroke.org, every 40 seconds, someone in the United States will have a stroke and one stroke will take a life every four minutes.
Strokes can happen to anyone at any time regardless of age, sex or race. In fact, 34 percent of the 130,000 stroke-related deaths reported each year are to people under the age of 65. Women will suffer about 55,000 more strokes a year than men, and African Americans are twice as likely to suffer a stroke as Caucasians.
So would you know how to recognize the signs of a stroke? Here’s what you should know to act F.A.S.T if someone you love (or a stranger, for that matter) experiences a stroke.
Types of Strokes
Ischemic strokes occur when arteries are blocked by a small blood clot or as plaque and other fatty deposits build up in the arteries. Almost 90 percent of all strokes are ischemic
Hemorrhagic strokes: Happen when a blood vessel in the brain breaks open and starts to leak. Hemorrhagic strokes account for just over 10 percent of all strokes. However, hemorrhagic strokes account for more than 30 percent of all stroke-related deaths.
Learning to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and getting help immediately are very important. Over 2,000,000 brain cells die every minute during a stroke, and can quickly cause irreversible brain damage. The faster you can recognize the signs of a stroke and get treatment, the more likely any permanent damage can be reversed. To recognize the signs of a stroke, remember the acronym F.A.S.T.
Face drooping: Ask the person to smile. Does their face look uneven?
Arm weakness: Ask them to raise both arms out in front of them. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech difficulty: Ask them to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound strange?
Time to call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms call for help fast. Call 911!
It’s very important to learn to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and call 911 as soon as possible. Time saves brain tissue and could even save a life. Just remember to act F.A.S.T. Always note the time of day you recognize the first symptoms of a stroke.
For ischemic strokes, if treatment with clot busting medication is given within the first three hours of the first symptom, long term disability can be reduced greatly.
There are also other stroke treatments available that may help reduce the effects of the stroke. Hemorrhagic strokes most likely will need surgical intervention to relieve the buildup of blood in the brain and to fix the leak in the blood vessels.