About Us

Increase Font Size Decrease Font Size ShareThis

Understanding Stroke 

Every second counts if you or someone you love is having a stroke. A stroke is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment. Just a few hours can make the difference between recovery or learning to walk and talk all over again – or worse still – death.  

You should call 911 if you, or someone you’re with, might be having a stroke. Don’t hesitate. Every moment you wait increases that person’s risk of permanent disability. 

You only have three hours from the time of your first symptom to receive treatment that can minimize the damage to your brain that can cause serious, long-term, disabilities. If you get to the hospital and it’s not a stroke – that’s wonderful news! If it is a stroke, you’ll get the help you need. 

Act F.A.S.T. 

If you are talking with someone and that person suddenly begins to behave unusually, you may hestitate to say something. After all, you don’t want to embarrass the other person. But acting F.A.S.T. could help to save his or her life.  Certain, sudden changes in behavior may be signs of a stroke. 

This quick tool from the American Stroke Association can help you identify a stroke in yourself or another person. If you notice the symptoms below, dial 911 immediately. 

  • F – Face Drooping. Is one side of the person’s face drooping or numb? When he or she smiles, is the smile uneven? 

  • A – Arm Weakness. Is the person experiencing weakness or numbness in one arm? Have the person raise both arms. Does one of the arms drift downward? 

  • S – Speech Difficulty. Is the person’s speech suddenly slurred or hard to understand? Is he or she unable to speak? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she repeat it back? 

  • T – Time to Call 911. If any of these symptoms are present, dial 911 immediately. Check the time so you can report when the symptoms began. 

What is Stroke? 

Stroke is the leading cause of adult disability in the United States and the fourth most common cause of death. A stroke occurs when the blood flow through an artery to the brain is cut off either by a blockage or because the artery ruptures and bleeds into the brain tissue. More than 85 percent of strokes are because of blockage by a blood clot or plaque (a fatty, waxy substance that accumulates on artery walls). 

Warning Signs of Stroke 

Most of us have headaches or clumsy spells now and then. But the symptoms of stroke will seem unusual and come on suddenly. Call 911 if you or someone you’re with notices these unexplained, sudden warning signs: 

  • A feeling of numbness or weakness in your face, arm, or leg (you might notice it on one side more than the other). 

  • Vision problems in one or both eyes. 

  • Dizziness or loss of balance; difficulty walking. 

  • Confusion. 

  • Problems speaking or understanding what other people are saying. 

  • Severe headaches without warning or explanation. 

Women may have the same symptoms as men, but they’ve also reported a few others. These symptoms also happen suddenly and unexpectedly: 

  • Pains in the face or legs. 

  • Hiccups. 

  • Nausea. 

  • Feeling weak all over. 

  • Chest pain. 

  • Shortness of breath. 

  • Rapid heart beat. 

Why is Stroke so Serious? 

A stroke is an interruption of the blood flow to the brain. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is restricted or cut off, the affected brain cells can die. That’s why it’s so important to be treated for stroke as soon as possible. 

Your brain is involved in everything you do – walking, talking, stopping to smell the roses – whatever you enjoy doing. If the part of the brain involved in those activities is damaged by the stroke, you might not be able to do those things anymore. 

Strokes are painless, but don’t let that stop you from getting help. And, don’t assume that if the symptoms stop before you call 911 that you’re okay. You might have had a TIA – what’s also known as a “mini-stroke.” Even though you feel better, and it seems like the problem has passed, according to the American Stroke Association, 1 in 20 people who have had a mini-stroke have another stroke in the next two days. Just like a stroke, a mini-stroke requires immediate care and follow-up medical treatment to control any risk factors, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol. 

So don’t wait. Take care of your brain. Call 911. 

For more information on stroke awareness, visit www.secondscount.org, or the American Stroke Association.