Are You at Risk for a Stroke?

Do you recognize the faces in the photo above?

Would it surprise you to learn that these are the faces of stroke victims? Stroke can happen to anyone regardless of age, race, or gender. Stroke kills more than 133,000 people a year. Many people don’t realize that up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working with a healthcare professional to manage risk.

National Stroke Association’s Faces of Stroke public awareness campaign aims to change the public perceptions of stroke through education and personal stories of those impacted by the fourth leading cause of death. Throughout May’s National Stroke Awareness Month, these four campaign ambassadors will begin educating the communities they live in about important life-saving stroke information.

About Stroke

A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain.

Controllable Stroke Risk Factors

  • High blood pressure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Circulation problems
  • Tobacco use and smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity

Uncontrollable Stroke Risk Factors

  • Age (over 55)
  • Gender (Women have more strokes each year than men, mostly because women live longer and stroke occurs more often as we age. About 55,000 more women than men have strokes each year, but stroke incidence is higher in men than women at younger ages.)
  • Race (African-American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander)
  • Family history of stroke
  • Previous stroke or TIA
  • Fibromuscular Dysplasia
  • Patent Foramen Ovale (PFO or Hole in the Heart)

Symptoms of Stroke

Common symptoms of stroke symptoms in both men and women:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg — especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Additional stroke symptoms reported in women:

  • Sudden face and limb pain
  • Sudden hiccups
  • Sudden nausea
  • Sudden general weakness
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Sudden palpitations

Stroke is an emergency. Recognizing warning signs can be easy if you remember to think FAST:

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 it’s time to call 9-1-1.

Next Page: Meet the Faces of Stroke Ambassadors pictured above

Photo: National Stroke Association’s 2012 Faces of Stroke Ambassadors, from left: Dick Burns, Charles Louis, Bailey Carlson, Lenice Hogan. (PRNewsFoto/National Stroke Association)

Source: National Stroke Association / PR Newswire










The Faces of Stroke Ambassadors include:

Bailey Carlson, 18, a teenage stroke survivor from Minnesota. While stroke can happen at any age, few know that stroke is among the top 10 causes of death in children in the U.S. While she’s back in school and looking forward to college, Carlson admits that thinking about her stroke makes her tear up. “There are definitely days when I think I won’t ever be normal again, but I am making steady progress. I am hoping one day that my experience can be helpful to others in my situation.” Read more and watch a video of Bailey.

Lenice Hogan, 46, is a three-time stroke survivor from Nebraska. A single mother, Hogan began running marathons that turned out to not only be physically challenging, but also healing. She has run the marathon three times and plans to run at least 17 more — “not just for me, but for all of the survivors who can’t walk, much less run.” Hogan has won the identity crisis facing many stroke survivors who are progressing through recovery. “I spent two years as a victim,” says Hogan, “but have definitely moved to survivor.” Read more and watch a video of Lenice.

Charles Louis, 48, suffered a subarachnoid hemorrhage six years ago. The remaining effects of Louis’ stroke include short-term memory loss, some trouble writing, and foot drop. Louis is interested in raising awareness about risk factors, including being African-American and having high blood pressure. While he has not returned to work, he has spent more than two years as a volunteer at National Stroke Association, giving an empathetic ear to stroke survivors and caregivers who call the organization looking for resources, information, or just a friendly voice. He also attends and speaks at stroke support groups and community centers. Read more and watch a video of Charles.

Richard (Dick) L. Burns, 81, had a cerebral hemorrhage at the age of 38. “My obituary was written,” he says. But Burns was truly a survivor, awaking from his coma the next day to begin his long road to recovery. “The next morning arrived and so did I,” he says. Burns wrote a book called Live or Die: A Stroke of Good Luck, which inspires other stroke survivors to persevere. “Nothing is impossible if you hope,” Burns says. Read more and watch a video of Dick.

Photo: National Stroke Association’s 2012 Faces of Stroke Ambassadors, from left: Dick Burns, Charles Louis, Bailey Carlson, Lenice Hogan. (PRNewsFoto/National Stroke Association)

Source: National Stroke Association / PR Newswire


Jeramie D
Jeramie D5 months ago

Thanks. I am working as a caregiver and am thrilled to be learning how to help with speech therapy and take one client to horse back riding therapy. I am amazed how hard stroke victims work to recover their independence and am happy to be a part of it.

katarzyna phillips

the F.A.S.T. anagram is one we use in the uk too. my friends mother has had 6 mini strokes at present, each one does more damage, but she's fiercely independant and wants to stay that way. you need to have a strong mentality to get through the trials and tribulations of having a stroke, or being a family member/friend to someone who has

Sheri P.
Sheri P5 years ago

wow! i gotta watch my cholesterol and keep moving!!!

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Karen R.
Karen R5 years ago


heather g.
heather g5 years ago

Our lifestyles are too sedintary - that most of the problem...

Richelle Rausch
Richelle Rausch5 years ago

Been there, done that, way before my time. It sucked.

Danuta Watola
Danuta W5 years ago

Very interesting!

Alan M.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank You for posting

Joan Mcallister
5 years ago

Great info. Thanks for posting