Stroke Awareness

Recognizing Stroke Warning Signs Saves Lives

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds and every 3.5 minutes a person dies of stroke. Better outcomes are possible – it starts with learning how to recognize stroke warning signs.

There are several factors that can increase your risk for having a stroke. These include:

  • A previous stroke or transient ischemic attack
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disorders, including coronary artery disease, heart valve defects and irregular heartbeat
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Eating a diet high in saturated fats, trans fat, cholesterol and sodium
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Tobacco use
  • Family history

Stroke warning signs appear when your brain doesn’t get the oxygen it needs to work properly. The types of symptoms a person experiences depend on the area of the brain that is affected. In general, you can use the FAST test to check for signs of stroke in yourself or a loved one.

  • F – Look for signs of facial drooping. One side of the face may droop or become numb. Ask the person to smile. If it’s uneven, it could be a sign of stroke.
  • A – Arm weakness is a sign of stroke. One arm may become weak or numb or drift downward when the person is asked to hold it up in front of them.
  • S – Watch for speech difficulty. This includes slurred speech, difficulty understanding speech or difficulty coming up with the right words to say.
  • T – This represents time. When a person has a stroke, seconds matter. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

Additional stroke symptoms to watch for include numbness on one side of the body, general confusion, trouble seeing, difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance and severe headache.

If you or a loved one experiences stroke warning signs or symptoms, it’s important to seek immediate emergency medical care. Calling 9-1-1 is better than trying to get to a hospital on your own. That’s because emergency medical technicians (EMTs) can better gauge your situation and begin administering emergency care right away. They are also able to ensure you get to the healthcare facility that is best equipped to deal with your condition and type of stroke.

NorthShore’s Evanston Hospital is certified as a Comprehensive Stroke Center by the Joint Commission. The recognition is reserved for hospitals that have specific abilities to treat the most complex stroke and cerebrovascular pathologies and reflects our commitment to delivering the highest standard of care for stroke patients. Our collaborative approach is at the heart of the care we provide and helps ensure our patients receive the best possible outcomes.

To learn more about stroke care, visit us online or call 877-570-2570.