We’ve all heard the terms heart disease and stroke often talked about together. One key difference between the two is awareness. We both know that at the first sign of chest pain or shortness of breath, we should head to the nearest emergency room. But what are the warning signs behind a stroke?
If you aren’t sure what the answer is, you are far from alone. A National Stroke Association survey found that one in three Americans were not able to name a symptom of stroke.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), a stroke occurs when blood vessels, responsible for carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain, rupture or are blocked. The brain is therefore unable to receive the oxygen and blood it needs to function and brain cells begin to die. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and the number one reason behind disability, according to the AHA.
While devastating, a large portion of strokes go unnoticed. According to a British study, 70 percent of people who had a minor stroke did not know that it occurred. The consequences of not seeking treatment can be disastrous and may increase your chances of having another stroke.
Despite these staggering statistics, the majority of strokes are avoidable. An estimated 80 percent of strokes are largely preventable, according to the AHA.
The AHA and the American Stroke Association (ASA) recommend remembering the simple acronym, FAST, to spot a stroke:
F – Face Drooping – Look for droopiness in the face that could take the form of an uneven smile.
A – Arm Weakness – Raise both arms. If one is weak or drifts downward, this could be a major warning sign.
S -Speech Difficulty – Be alert for slurred speech.
T – Time to call 911- If you spot any of these symptoms in yourself or your loved ones, call 911 as soon as possible.
Additionally, the AHA and ASA recommend looking out for:
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness or a lack of balance
- Harsh headache with no known cause
Talk to a cardiologist about how you can prevent your risk for heart disease and stroke. Call 904.493.3333 to schedule an appointment with a physician at First Coast Cardiovascular Institute.