National Stroke Awareness Month: Every Second Counts

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of serious long-term disability.

Health care reform is what we want our lawmakers to do, but there are some things we need to do for ourselves, too. Those of us who are not medical professionals can learn some basic facts and promote awareness so that we can help prevent the serious consequences of inaction.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, causing brain cells to die. Permanent disability or death can result. When signs of stroke appear, every second counts.

Symptoms include numbness of the face or limbs, confusion, difficulty with speech or cognition, visual disturbances, trouble walking, loss of balance, and severe headache. Although the majority of strokes occur in people aged 65 or older, they can and do occur any age. 

According to The American Stroke Association (a division of The American Heart Association), Americans will pay about $68.9 billion in 2009 for stroke-related medical costs and disability. That’s a lot of money.

Certain risk factors such as age, gender, and genetics are unavoidable, but here are things we can do to lower our risk of stroke. Smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, and abuse of alcohol and drugs all contribute to increased risk of stroke. 

If you think someone is exhibiting signs of stroke, The National Stroke Association recommends acting F.A.S.T.

F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = ARM 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, it’s time to call 9-1-1.

Acting quickly could be the difference between minor or permanent disability… or life and death.

Be your family’s best health care advocate. Learn the signs of stroke and know what to do.



The National Stroke Association

The American Stroke Association

Centers For Disease Control


Tracy N.
Tracy N.7 years ago

Thank You, I have extensive family history of death by stroke. This information is very helpful.

Mandi T.
Mandi T.7 years ago

Thanks, important info.

Kristy M.
Kristy M.7 years ago

Thanks! Always good to review.

Nora Fodor
Nora Fodor7 years ago

Please these more accessible, many people don't know about these. I've had a stroke with all the signs & no doc. believed me, very frustrating.

Christine D.
Christine D.7 years ago

Very helpful information. Thanks a lot!

Bradley Harris
Bradley Harris7 years ago

A storke is deadly and fast action is needed

Timothy Lechowicz
Timothy L.7 years ago

A stroke is without mercy. There is a book & documentary by a gal who was brain surgeon at Harvard, who experienced a stroke and lived to describe the experience. Both interesting and tragic.

Natalie S.
Natalie S.7 years ago

Good way to remember--fast

Lillya Spencer
Lillya S.7 years ago

Thank you for this article! :)

Patricia S.
Patricia S.7 years ago

I have had at least three small strokes and TIAS too. It runs in my family. People need to be aware of this problem and help those who have had severe strokes.