Many health and heart organizations come together every May to raise awareness about the causes and effects of stroke.

A stroke is a serious medical emergency resulting from insufficient blood reaching areas of the brain.  A lack of oxygen and nutrients can cause brain cell death, resulting in serious neurological problems.

Strokes can occur for different reasons. Ischemic strokes develop when a blood clot blocks a vein or artery within the brain. Conversely, hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel bursts inside the brain. Additionally, ischemic strokes can sometimes go on to cause hemorrhagic strokes. Transient ischemic attack (TIA) occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain is inadequate for a brief period of time. Normal blood flow resumes after a short amount of time, and the symptoms resolve without treatment. Some people call this a ministroke.  Stroke can be fatal.

Learning the acronym “FAST” is a good way to remember the symptoms of stroke.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following test:

  • F = Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
  • A = Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred?
  • T = Time to call 911

Knowing the warning signs and seeking emergency medical care are the most important ways to improve a person’s outlook after a stroke.

If a stroke is happening to a friend or family member, people should not drive them to a hospital. They should call an ambulance, as paramedics can provide medical care as quickly as possible.  An ambulance can also take the person to the hospital that can provide the best stroke care, which is not always the closest facility.  A rapid response significantly improves a person’s chances of survival after a stroke.

Life after a stroke may be challenging, and getting emergency care, receiving rehabilitation services to relearn skills, and making lifestyle changes can help reduce the effects of a stroke. It is important to maintain a healthy diet, be physically active and reduce unhealthy habits such as smoking and drinking to decrease the risk of having a stroke.

FAST is a quick easy way to recognize and respond to someone experiencing a stroke and it takes less than 40 seconds to use the tool. For more information, please visit for steps you can take to prevent a stroke.

Would you like to learn to how you can volunteer to assist?  Gear Up today!