Quad Cities, IL/IA

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Can You Spot a Stroke?


Submitted by the American Stroke Association

May is American Stroke Month. Did you know that nearly 800,000 people will suffer a stroke this year? Stroke is the number four cause of death and the leading cause of serious, long-term disability in America. Sadly, one-third of people do not recognize the symptoms of stroke and will not call 911, causing brain cells to die and resulting in debilitating effects on the body.

Stroke occurs when a blood vessel bringing blood and oxygen to the brain gets blocked or ruptures. When this happens, brain cells don’t get the blood they need. Deprived of oxygen, nerve cells stop working and die within minutes. Then, the part of the body they control can’t function either. The effects of a stroke may be permanent depending on how many brain cells are lost, where they are in the brain, and other factors.

Know the signs of stroke by remembering the acronym F.A.S.T.:
F    —    Face drooping.
Does one side of the face droop, or is it numb?
A    —    Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S    —    Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred, is the person unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T    —    Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Other symptoms might include sudden numbness or weakness of the leg; sudden confusion; trouble seeing in one or both eyes; dizziness or loss of balance; or a sudden, severe headache with no known cause.
While all of this information sounds scary, the good news is that stroke is largely preventable. You can reduce your risk by living a healthy lifestyle—controlling high blood pressure, not smoking, eating a healthy diet, being physically active, and maintaining a healthy body weight.

Thanks to organizations like the American Stroke Association and the Federal Drug Administration, new procedures and drugs are available to combat stroke. The FDA has approved clot-dissolving drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) to treat stroke. It can stop a stroke in progress and reduce disability. But here’s the catch—you must seek emergency treatment right away because it must be given within 4.5 hours after the symptoms start. So please call 911 if you or someone you know may be having a stroke because time lost is brain lost.

For more information on the warning signs of stroke, stroke prevention, and life after a stroke, log on to www.strokeassociation.org.
If you’re interested in supporting the American Heart Association, consider joining us for the Quad Cities Heart Walk on Saturday, May 21 at the District of Rock Island. Register to walk at www.quadcitiesheartwalk.org!