A Stroke Is an Emergency!

Published on Feb 06, 2018

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. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of adult disability.

That's why it's very important to know the warning signs of stroke and if you see them, call 911 immediately. A quick response can mean the difference between life and death. Warning signs include sudden:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion or trouble speaking.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.

Act FAST

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!

Don’t delay

A 2011 study found that African-Americans delay calling 911 after a stroke and instead call a relative or friend. This is alarming. African-Americans are twice as likely to experience a first stroke as Caucasians. They are also twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians.

Another study found that even though people recognized a friend or family member might be having a stroke, they may not call 911. In a stroke, minutes matter—dial 911!

Here are some important tips to remember:

  • Identify: learn about stroke risk factors.
  • Reduce your risk factors: make lifestyle changes to help reduce your stroke risk.
  • Recognize and respond: know the warning signs of stroke and call 911 immediately if you or someone close to you shows signs of a stroke.

Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA is a physician and the Chief Patient Officer of Pfizer Inc.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

References

  • 1. American Heart Association. Heart Attack or Stroke? Call 911 First. And Fast. Accessed January 11, 2018.
  • 2. American Stroke Association. Learn More Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms. Accessed January 11, 2018.
  • 3. Fussman C, Rafferty AP, Lyon-Callo S, Morgenstern LB, Reeves MJ. Lack of association between stroke symptom knowledge and intent to call 911: a population-based survey. Stroke. 2010;41(7):1501-1507.
  • 4. Hsia AW, Castle A, Wing JJ, et al. Understanding reasons for delay in seeking acute stroke care in an underserved urban population. Stroke. 2011;42(6):1697-1701.
  • 5. National Stroke Association. Minorities and Stroke. Accessed January 11, 2018.
  • 6. National Stroke Association. Preventing a Stroke. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  • 7. National Stroke Association. Stroke Facts. Accessed January 11, 2018.
External Resources
Topics:

Quick Poll

After reading this article, how likely are you to talk with your healthcare provider or someone you know about stroke?

Read next

MORE TO EXPLORE

Subscribe To Our Newsletter!

Sign up to receive monthly newsletters and other Get Healthy Stay Healthy updates.