What you should know about stroke

With Luke Perry’s passing yesterday, you may wonder: What are the signs of a stroke? And how common is it for someone relatively young to have a stroke?

The American Stroke Association has an easy mnemonic to help you remember the signs of stroke and what to do: FAST

F – Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile: Is it uneven or lopsided?

A – Arm weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

T – Time to Call 9-1-1: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call 9-1-1 & get them to the hospital immediately.

Time is of the essence when someone is having a stroke. Doctors have a 3 hour window from when the symptoms first show up to give clot-busting medication to prevent permanent damage. (most strokes are caused by clots that block the blood flow to parts of the brain, which can only go without blood flow for a very short period of time)

Why does someone still need to go to the ER even if the symptoms go away? Because the person may be having what is called a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – basically, blood flow to the brain has been stopped and started again, but that person is at an even higher risk of having a full-blown stroke. Getting them to the hospital may prevent them from having a stroke.

Strokes are definitely more common in older individuals, usually over the age of 65. But it is possible for people younger than 65 to have strokes, especially if they have risk factors for stroke. In fact, it is possible for anyone of any age to have a stroke, even children and infants (although it is quite rare).

Want to know more? Check out the American Stroke Association website.

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