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Dont Ignore Signs of a Stroke

You may not be concerned about stroke just yet. But stroke can happen to anyone, at any time and at any age.

Jerome Freeman, Sanford Clinic Neurology
Article Authored By:
Sanford Health with Dr. Jerome Freeman with Sanford Clinic Neurology
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. For more stroke information call your local health care provider or visit one of the websites above.
Twice as many women die of stroke than breast cancer every year. Despite this startling statistic, women are more worried about their risk of getting breast cancer than their stroke risk. What's more, women think stroke is a men's disease. But the truth is more women than men will die from stroke.

You may not be concerned about stroke just yet. But stroke can happen to anyone, at any time and at any age. Stroke doesn’t discriminate – it affects people of all ages, ethnicities and backgrounds. In fact, the National Stroke Association reports that stroke is the third leading cause of death in America and the No. 1 cause of adult disability. Fortunately, up to 80% of strokes are preventable; we can all take steps now to avoid having a stroke.

What is a Stroke?

Stroke can most easily be described by comparing it to a heart attack, except it occurs in the brain. Commonly called a ‘brain attack’, damage occurs in the brain when a blood clot blocks an artery. And as with a heart attack, response time can be vital in determining the success of treatment.

Implement these Stroke Prevention Guidelines to lessen your chance of having a stroke:

  • Know your blood pressure.
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.
  • Find out if you have high cholesterol
  • If you are diabetic, work towards good control.
  • Exercise.
  • Enjoy a lower salt, lower fat diet.
  • Know the Symptoms of Stroke.

Fewer than one in five Americans can identify even one stroke symptom. Many stroke patients have no idea they are having a stroke. “If you understand the warning signs (of stroke) and get to the hospital quickly, it may be possible to reverse the stroke or lessen its effects,” says Jerome Freeman, MD, Sanford Clinic Neurology.

Learning to recognize a stroke is important and easy. React F.A.S.T to get treatment to save the lives of your loved ones by following these guidelines:

  • Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms – Ask the person to hold both arms up evenly. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are their words slurred or mixed up?
  • Time – If the person shows any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Brain cells are dying.

The good news is that strokes are preventable. You should stop smoking, keep blood pressure at normal levels, cholesterol and diabetes under control, and manage atrial fibrillation (a condition where the heart beats irregularly) to reduce stroke risk.

Dr. Freeman explains that, “Getting immediate medical care can help minimize brain damage and dramatically increase the chance of recovery. Patients who receive emergency medical treatment within three hours of the onset of stroke can often be given a clot-busting medication that will dissolve the blood clot and restore normal blood flow to the brain.”