Think F.A.S.T. When it Comes to Stroke

By Kindred Healthcare

stroke-monthMay is American Stroke Month. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association encourages Americans to become more educated about stroke, symptoms, prevention and treatment. Surprisingly, many don’t think of stroke as a major health concern even though it is the Nation’s No. 4 cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability.

Strokes fall into one of three categories: Ischemic (clots), Hemorrhagic (bleeds) or Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA).

Ischemic stroke accounts for 87% of all stroke cases. It occurs as a result of an obstruction within a blood vessel supplying blood to the brain. Hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel – aneurysm or arteriovenous malformation (AVM) – ruptures. The most common cause of hemorrhagic stroke is a largely treatable condition: high blood pressure. TIAs are often referred to as “mini strokes,” but don’t let the name undermine their seriousness. TIAs occur when a blood vessel is obstructed by a temporary clot.

According to the American Stroke Association, there are a variety of stroke risk factors. Some of these risk factors are within our control while others cannot be changed.

Risk factors for stroke that can’t be changed include:

  • age
  • family history/heredity
  • race
  • gender
  • history of stroke, TIA or heart attack

Risk factors for stroke that can be treated or controlled include:

  • high blood pressure or hypertension
  • cigarette smoking
  • diabetes
  • carotid or other artery disease
  • peripheral artery disease
  • atrial fibrillation
  • heart diseases
  • sickle cell disease
  • high blood cholesterol
  • poor diet
  • physical inactivity and/or obesity

In additional to learning about stroke risk factors, being aware of warning signs is essential for immediate medical attention which may minimize long-term effects and prevent death. First and foremost, if you or a loved one think you are having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

The American Stroke Association encourages you to think “F.A.S.T.” when it comes to stroke:

F: Face Drooping
A: Arm Weakness
S: Speech Difficulty
T: Time to call 9-1-1