Knowledge is Power During National Stroke Awareness Month

NOTE: This is a guest post by Taryn Fort, Director of Marketing and Communications for the National Stroke Association.

National Stroke Awareness Month has been recognized during May for 23 years in the U.S. Yet, stroke is the fourth leading cause of death, killing more than 133,000 people a year. Public knowledge of this condition we often call a “brain attack” is dangerously low. Further, many simply don’t realize that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working with a healthcare professional to manage common risks.

One of the biggest challenges facing everyone engaged in stroke awareness faces is debunking the myths that exist. Making more people aware of the facts is essential. For example:

Myth: stroke can’t be treated; Reality: stroke can often be treated, but it’s important that a patient gets urgent medical treatment in time.

Myth: stroke is a type of heart disease; Reality: stroke is an event that occurs in the brain.

Often, the most jarring fact for people to hear is that stroke affects all ages. National Stroke Association designed our public awareness campaign, Faces of Stroke, to highlight the vast range of stroke survivors–from babies to people in their late 90s. Unfortunately for everyone, stroke does not discriminate against age, gender or race. Every person is at risk on some level.

But the good news is that most stroke risk can be managed.

Follow these five easy steps to become better informed about stroke:

- Understand what can lead to a stroke. Risk factors can lead to stroke. There are dozens of potential risk factors and combinations of risk factors to manage. Some are controllable (high blood pressure, atrial fibrillation, smoking, drug and alcohol use) and others are uncontrollable (age, family history). Learn more about stroke risk factors and work with a doctor to help reduce personal risk.

- Score your risk. National Stroke Association offers an easy-to-use stroke risk scorecard for free online. We recommend that a person score their risk and then bring the completed score card to a doctor’s appointment. The scorecard is an ideal conversation starter with any healthcare professional.

- Manage risk. Once personal risk factors have been identified, it’s time to commit to managing them. Lifestyle changes such as healthier eating and quitting smoking can be tough to adopt long-term. Medical changes such as surgical procedures and medication can prove to be access challenges. Working with a healthcare professional and other experts to map out your stroke-free future is key.

- Know how to act FAST at any warning sign of stroke. When stroke hits, you have to act FAST. Getting urgent medical care can significantly reduce long-term disability, but it all depends on a person calling 9-1-1 or arriving at a hospital in time. There are many types of warning signs that indicate a person is having a stroke, but most people don’t know them.

Memorize this easy-to-remember tool so you can act FAST and help determine if someone is having a stroke.

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. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?

T=Time: If you observe any of these signs, then it’s time to call 9-1-1.

- Share your newfound stroke knowledge with family and friends. The Five Faces Pledge is an easy and free way to tell five people you care about how to recognize and respond to stroke warning signs. Take it now at

National Stroke Association’s mission is to reduce the incidence and impact of stroke, and is the only national organization in the U.S. that focuses 100 percent of its efforts on stroke through education and programs focused on prevention, treatment, rehabilitation and support for all impacted by stroke.

Learn more about how you can get involved in National Stroke Awareness Month at

Photo courtesy of National Stroke Association.

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Robert M.
Robert Miles3 years ago

Pradip C.,

I've been studying the effects of strokes for years (ever since I had one), and have never seen or heard anything similar to your suggestions before, so I doubt that they will help. They might help identify those most likely to survive a stroke, but I doubt that they will offer any help for that survival. In the US, calling 911 immediately is very important - the best methods of treating strokes must be done within just a few hours to have much effect.

Robert M.
Robert Miles3 years ago

Could the government try to arrange a wider variety of telecommuting jobs for stroke victims, especially those like me who are no longer good at remembering what is said rapidly, and are therefore not interested in jobs with much public contact?

Also, I have found a BOINC project that looks easy to turn toward stroke research - GPUGRID. Only 50,000 euros a year to add stroke research to what they do. Currently about $64,700 a year. Already working on some neurological problems, but not strokes.

They also want volunteers with rather high-end graphics boards, such as the two I'm now letting them use, to volunteer computer time.

Another group for stroke survivors and stroke caregivers:

The Stroke Network

John Mansky
John Mansky3 years ago

Thank you for the article...

Pradip Chavda
Pradip Chavda3 years ago

I had received an email which I would like to share with all CARE members. It says that when anyone gets a stroke and awaiting medical aid - the first thing you do is rub all the finger tips vigourously and peirce them with a sterilised needle and let droplets of blood ooze out, if the face shows some contortions then rub the earlobes and again peirce them with a sterilised needle and the face will regain its original shape.
Could the medical faculty who read this comment throw some light on this matter.

Judy M.
Judy mahaffey3 years ago

Thank you for posting, as a caregiver for a stroke survivor, it is a challenge every day.

Liz C.
E. C.3 years ago

My StrokeS were from having Antiphospholipid Syndrome
In away I glad Got!! I think it made me smarter :D♡♥☯☮ Please add Antiphospholipid Syndrome to the list! Even Dr. Oz needs to up date info:} If you live though it (them with me) It's just a start of an amazing Journey :D

Rebecca S.
Rebecca S.3 years ago

thanks, it's important to remember young people can have strokes too.

aj M.
aj E.3 years ago


Jennifer C.
Past Member 3 years ago

Thanks for this good post.

Terry Vanderbush
Terry V.3 years ago

Excellent article. THANK YOU