Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke.
It’s the 5th leading cause of death in the United States, and the leading cause of adult long-term disability.
A stroke occurs when blood flow and oxygen is blocked from getting to the brain – usually caused by a blood clot or broken blood vessel. When this happens, brain cells begin to die, and brain damage occurs. This can affect speech, movement and memory.
“Stroke can happen to anyone at any time, regardless of race, sex or age,” says Dr. Pedro McDougal, Medical Director of Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital. “Yet, despite the tremendous toll stroke takes, the vast majority of Americans don’t think of stroke as a major health concern.”
That’s why Dr. McDougal and Weslaco Regional Rehabilitation Hospital are asking community members to become “Stroke Heroes” by learning the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs so they can recognize a stroke and act quickly. F.A.S.T. is an acronym that stands for:
- F – Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop down?
- A – Arm weakness. Ask the person to lift their arms. Does one drift downward?
- S – Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
- T – Time to call 911. If the person has any of the above symptoms, call 911 immediately. The person could be having a stroke.
“If more people know the symptoms of stroke and act quickly, they can have an impact on the recovery process and rehabilitation,” Dr. McDougal says. “The sooner a stroke is treated, the better the odds are of survival.”
If you can get help quickly, Dr. McDougal says there’s a medication that may reduce long-term disability for the person having the stroke if it’s administered within 3 hours of the first symptom
“So, don’t ever hesitate to call for help,” he says. “Your quick thinking and reaction can make a significant difference to that person’s life.”