May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and medical professionals are taking the opportunity to remind people of the importance of recognizing the symptoms of a stroke. According to Dr. Agusto Elias, the medical director of neuro interventional surgery and comprehensive stroke center at UM Health-West, it is crucial to identify the signs of a stroke early on to minimize the risk of long-term damage.
To help people remember the warning signs of a stroke, Elias recommends using the “BE FAST” acronym. The first five letters in the acronym stand for balance, eyes, face, arms, and speech. These are the primary areas where stroke symptoms manifest themselves. The warning signs of a stroke can include a sudden loss of balance or coordination, vision changes or loss, drooping or numbness in one side of the face, weakness or numbness in one arm or leg, and difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
The T in BE FAST stands for time. In other words, if someone has any of these symptoms, it’s time to immediately call 911. Elias emphasizes that it’s important to act fast and call for emergency services, as strokes can cause irreversible damage in a matter of minutes.
According to Elias, there are two types of strokes. The most common is an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a clot blocks a blood vessel connected to the brain. The other type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures.
While strokes can have devastating consequences, they can be prevented with certain lifestyle changes. For example, a balanced diet, moderate alcohol consumption, no tobacco use, blood pressure control, and moderate exercise can all help reduce the risk of stroke. Additionally, managing chronic conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure can help minimize the risk of a stroke.
It’s important to note that strokes can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender. However, some groups are at higher risk than others. For example, people over the age of 55, women who take birth control pills, and people with a family history of strokes are all at increased risk.
Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke is crucial for anyone who wants to minimize the risk of long-term damage. If someone experiences any of the warning signs of a stroke, it’s important to act fast and call for emergency services. With quick action and proper medical attention, many people who suffer from strokes can go on to make a full recovery. However, the key is to act fast and get help as soon as possible.