Many Americans were saddened at the recent news that actor, father and advocate, Luke Perry, passed away of a stroke. Shortly thereafter, we learned that Academy Award nominated director John Singleton also passed away after a massive stroke. Perry was 52, Singleton 51. Unfortunately, stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide, and the leading cause of disability in the United States. It doesn’t discriminate on age, race or status.
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is preventable, treatable and beatable. In observation of Stroke Awareness Month, take a moment to familiarize yourself with the “F.A.S.T.” warning signs. Being able to identify these symptoms could save a life.
F.A.S.T. stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time:
Face—Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms—Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech—Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
Time—If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
What can you do to avoid a stroke?
Some risk factors, like family history, are out of our control. But there are a multitude of things you can do to lower the risk of stroke:
- Control High Blood Pressure. Know your numbers and keep them low
- Don’t Smoke. Avoid the nicotine and carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke; they can damage the cardiovascular system
- Control Blood Sugar. If you have diabetes, keep tight control of your blood sugar levels
- Eat Right. Reduce saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol and salt in your diet. Eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables a day
- Exercise. Physical inactivity can increase the risk of stroke, so try to be active at least 150 minutes a week
- Control Weight. Obesity is linked to an increased chance of stroke
- Control Cholesterol. Large amounts of cholesterol in the blood can build up and cause clots
You can see the American Stroke Association’s full list of stroke risk factors here.
Stroke is a frightening disease, but there have been many breakthroughs in its treatment and prevention over the past few years. As that progress continues, it’s important to know the signs of stroke and what to do if you see them. That knowledge just might save a life.