I am writing this a few days before Halloween, which seems fitting — because there are not many things scarier than a stroke. Like a heart attack, a stroke can come on suddenly, with little or no advance warning. And like a heart attack, a stroke can cause serious and lasting damage, or it may be fatal, especially if you don't respond quickly. That's why it's very important to know stroke's warning signs and if you see them, call 911 immediately. A quick response can literally mean the difference between life and death. Warning signs of stroke include sudden:
Numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
Confusion or trouble speaking
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Severe headache with no known cause
If you observe or suspect anyone to have at least one of those symptoms, act FAST. Here's a way to remember what to do – remember the letters F-A-S-T:
F for Face: Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face drooping?
A for Arm: Can they raise both arms or is one arm weak?
S for Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred or confused?
T for Time: Call 911 right away!
A recent study found that African Americans delay calling 911 after a stroke. AARP, reporting on this study, wrote that "most African Americans call a friend or relative instead of 911 when they have symptoms of a stroke, potentially delaying arrival at a hospital and access to lifesaving treatment."
Another study found that even though people recognized a friend or family member might be having a stroke, they may not call 911. However, they would immediately call 911 if they thought a friend/family member was having a heart attack. In a stroke, minutes matter - dial 911! Check out the resources provided to find out who is at risk and to understand what a stroke is. For information on what a stroke is or to understand who is at risk, check the resources I've provided.