Act F.A.S.T. if you think someone might be having a stroke

Note: A Closer Look At Your Health airs at 6:50 a.m. most Tuesdays on KBOI News Radio 670. This is the edited transcript from the May 31 segment. Join us next week! 

Stroke can happen to people of all ages and backgrounds. In fact, someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. The good news is that it is preventable and treatable, especially if you can recognize the signs and get treatment right away.

What is a stroke?

A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). It is the fifth leading cause of death in Idaho and the U.S., and we’re seeing it happen more often to people we wouldn’t expect, like younger people.

Do we know why that might be happening?

Experts say younger people are having more strokes because they are obese, have high blood pressure, and diabetes at younger ages. Those conditions all increase a person’s risk for stroke. Living a healthier lifestyle with more physical activity and a good diet can help prevent it. Certain groups of people are more likely to have a stroke at younger ages, including women and minorities.

How do you know if you’re having a stroke, or if someone you’re with is having one? What are the signs?

If you think someone may be having a stroke, do the FAST test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is her speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Stroke is treatable, but treatments are most effective when you seek it immediately after a possible stroke. For some types of stroke, there is only a three-hour window for a certain medication to be given.

What can we do about it before we get to that point? How do we reduce our risks?

You can control the risks by making some simple changes to your lifestyle. You’ve probably heard these before:

  • Check your blood pressure. About one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, and many do not know it.
  • Stop smoking. Smoking raises blood pressure and makes blood more likely to clot.
  • Get moving. Staying physically active keeps your blood vessels healthy and lowers your chances of having a stroke.
  • Eat healthy food. Choose fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Choose foods that are lower in sodiumor salt.
  • Lose weight. Being overweight or obese forces your heart to work harder and increases your chances of having a stroke.






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