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BE FAST for Stroke Awareness – May No Ka Oi Health

May is Stroke Awareness Month. This article aims to raise awareness about stroke and the signs and symptoms that someone may be having a stroke. If someone is having a stroke, getting them medical help quickly is important. With awareness, you may be able to save someone’s life!

About Stroke

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries within the brain and arteries leading to the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures.

Did you know that every 40 seconds, someone in the US has a stroke? In fact, stroke is the leading cause of chronic disability and the third leading cause of death in Hawaii. Furthermore, the death rate for stroke among Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders is 2.5 times higher than the average stroke death rate among all Hawaii residents.

Although there are certain groups of people who may be at increased risk for having a stroke, the reality is that strokes can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender, and ethnicity.

The effects of a stroke can be numerous and widespread. As the brain is a very complex organ and controls various body functions, the effects from a stroke can be different depending on which region of the brain was affected.

Here are a few common effects of a stroke:

• Paralysis

• Sensory changes

• Vision problems

• Speech / language problems

• Challenges with abstract thinking

• Memory problems

Signs and Symptoms

It’s important to know the signs and symptoms that someone may be having a stroke so they can get medical care immediately. If you notice someone suddenly experiencing one or more of these stroke signs or symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately!

• B: Balance Loss – Sudden loss of balance or dizziness

• E: Eyesight Problems – Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes or onset of double vision

• F: Face Drooping – Uneven or facial drooping

• A: Arm Weakness – Weakness or numbness or unable to raise both arms

• S: Speech Difficulty – Slurring of speech

• T: Time – Time to call 9-1-1

Remember, time is of the essence and every second counts when it comes to surviving a stroke and preventing disability. The sooner a stroke victim gets medical assistance, the better their chances for survival and recovery.

Stroke Care

Signs of stroke are a medical emergency, so call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke care begins the moment emergency medical services (EMS) arrive to take the stroke victim to the hospital. Therefore, it’s important that the stroke victim does not drive to the hospital or have someone else drive them. Immediately call 9-1-1 and let EMS administer essential medical services.

Prevention Tips

Four out of five strokes can be prevented by living a healthy lifestyle and controlling your medical conditions:

• If you’ve had a stroke before, know the cause of your stroke

• Control your high blood pressure

• Control diabetes

• Reduce your blood sugar

• Be more physically active

• Eat healthier

• Lose or manage your weight

• Stop smoking and vaping

• Be involved in your treatment plan decisions

• Take all medications as prescribed

• Join a program that includes exercise, education, and counseling

Remember to work with your doctor on your health behavior changes.

BE FAST for Stroke! You may be able to save someone’s life. For more information, visit the Start Living Healthy BE FAST for Stroke website at BeFast.hawaii.gov.

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