Thousands of Americans are affected by stroke each year. In fact, every 40 seconds someone in the United States experiences a stroke. Every 4 minutes, someone dies from stroke. With numbers like this, it is easy to understand why medical professionals are advocating for more stroke awareness. The right stroke education can greatly reduce the number of strokes experienced each year. It can also help you live a healthier life without the fear that a stroke can strike you at any moment.

You may have already heard that May is American Stroke Month. Perhaps you are wondering why health care professionals would devote a whole month to educating the community on stroke. The answer is simple. Studies have shown 80% of strokes may be preventable. With over 800,000 people experiencing a stroke each year, an 80% reduction would be a huge help in reducing the amount of hospital expenses and health issues that affect the average American.

This month, learn everything you can about stroke and stroke prevention. Then do your part by sharing this valuable information with your friends and family. Remember, this knowledge can help save time, money, and lives! Keep reading to learn more about strokes, including warning signs and stroke prevention tips.

What Is Stroke

Medically speaking, a stroke is a sudden interruption of blood supply to your brain. There are several different kinds of strokes a person can experience: Ischemic Strokes, Intracerebral Hemorrhage, and Subarachnoid Hemorrhage.

  • An ischemic stroke is one of the most common type of stroke. It is caused when a clot or another form of blockage happens within an artery that leads to the brain.
  • An intracerebral hemorrhage is a stroke that occurs when an artery within the brain suddenly ruptures. The brain structures then become compressed by the blood that is released into the brain.
  • A subarachnoid hemorrhage is another type of stroke caused by a sudden artery rupture. However, in this type of stroke the rupture caused the released blood to flood the spaces surrounding the brain instead of filling the inside of the brain.

The effects of a stroke depends on which part of the brain is harmed, and the extent of damage caused by the stroke. Regardless of which type of stroke you are experiencing, it is important you notice the warning signs right away and get immediate medical assistance.

How Can I Tell If I’m Having A Stroke?

Far too often, people ignore the signs of stroke because they aren’t sure if their symptoms are real. It’s important that you pay attention to your instincts. Listen to what your body is telling you. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s important you get professional medical help as soon as possible.

Fortunately, there’s a simple way to tell if you’re having a stroke. The National Stroke Association created an easy acronym, F-A-S-T, to help people remember the warning signs of stroke. Here’s the acronym broken down for you:

  • “F” stands for face. One warning sign of a stroke is having one side of your face droop when you smile.
  • “A” stands for arms. A second warning sign of stroke is having one of your arms drift back down right after you lift both arms.
  • “S” stands for speech. A third warning sign is slurred speech or speaking oddly.
  • “T” stands for time. If you notice any of these 3 major stroke signs in yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately.

The letters spell fast because it is important you act fast. Getting medical treatment within 3 hours from when the first stroke symptom began can be the difference between recovery and a lasting disability.

In addition to the 3 symptoms identified in F-A-S-T, there are a few other signs of stroke. Other symptoms of stroke that you should be aware of include:

  • Your face feels numb
  • Loss of vision
  • Tingling and numbness
  • Unsteady walk
  • Weakness on one side of your body
  • Unusual and severe headache

What Should I Do If I’m Having A Stroke?

If you’re having a stroke you must get medical attention immediately. Once you’ve identified a stroke using F-A-S-T, call 911. If you’re having a stroke and are unable to speak, ask anyone nearby to make the call for you.

Remember, it’s crucial that you get treatment within the first 3 hours of your first stroke symptom. Make sure you note the time of the first symptom. Many stroke treatments are time sensitive. By keeping track of the start of a stroke, you can give the emergency staff the opportunity to make more informed decisions about treatment options.

If you think you are having a stroke, do not take any medication. For some specific kind of strokes called Ischemic strokes, taking an aspirin can be dangerous. Stay safe by avoiding any medication until the emergency staff can identify what type of stroke you are experiencing.

Strokes can also affect a person’s ability to swallow so avoid giving anyone who may be having a stroke food or drinks. You don’t want to cause anyone to accidentally choke while having a stroke.

How Can I Prevent A Stroke?

A stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of age or gender. However, research shows that 80% of strokes are preventable. By making healthy lifestyle changes, such as exercising on a regular basis and having a nutritious diet, you can greatly decrease your chances of having a stroke.

You can also minimize your risk of stroke decreasing any risky activities. Losing excess weight, lowering your blood pressure to a healthy level, keeping your blood sugar down, and quitting your smoking habit are all excellent ways to reduce your risk of stroke.