Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. Most victims are older, but strokes can happen to anyone regardless of age.
Dr. Huang says there are ways to reduce your risk of stroke. People who smoke or who drink heavily are at higher risk, he says, as are people with poor eating habits, sedentary lifestyles, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. But there are also uncontrollable risk factors, including your family history – and even if you do everything ‘right,’ Dr. Huang says there’s no way to eliminate the risk of stroke entirely.
So experts like Dr. Huang are encouraging everyone to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke – and react quickly when they appear.
The key word to remember is “FAST,” Dr. Huang says. That’s an acronym: Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. If you see someone’s face drooping on one side, if you see them having trouble moving their arms or legs, if their speech suddenly becomes slurred – or if you begin experiencing any of those symptoms – it’s important to react quickly.
The National Stroke Association identifies five key symptoms: sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.
But the most important part of the FAST acronym may be the “T”: time. “Time is brain,” Dr. Huang says: the faster you call 911 when symptoms appear, the better the chances of a full recovery.
If you’re a stroke survivor, a caregiver, or just interested in learning more, you’re invited to join the UNC Stroke Center for “Stroll and Roll,” every other month at University Place. “Stroll and Roll” takes place on the third Tuesday of every other month – the next one is Tuesday, June 20. Meet in front of Chick-Fil-A at 10 am, enjoy free coffee, and go on a fun, casual two-hour mall walk (or roll) with a member of the UNC Stroke Center there to answer questions.