How to identify the symptoms of a stroke

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Stroke is one of  the country’s leading causes of death. However, many of us still don’t know what a stroke is, or how to tell if someone is having one.

A stroke is essentially a “brain attack”. It happens when blood flow gets blocked in part of your brain.  Brain cells begin to die almost instantly, causing brain damage.

“It’s really important to get the person to the hospital. Get a C.T. Scan. To not only see where the blockage is obviously, but to make sure it’s a blockage and not a rupture. Time is of the essence,” said Mike Harrowfield, a paramedic and field supervisor at AMR Springfield.

Since 1989, the month of May has been designated National Stroke Awareness Month. A stroke can happen to anyone, regardless of age, gender or background. It’s the fourth leading cause of death here in the United States. However, a CDC survey found only 38% of people can correctly identify all the symptoms of a stroke

‘There’s all different levels of a stroke, and that’s where people start to minimize their symptoms. If it’s a minor symptom it can actually lead to a full-fledged stroke which can be much more serious,” said Angela Smith, of the Holyoke Medical Center Stroke Service.

If you think someone might be having a stroke, here’s how you can check.  Just remember the word F.A.S.T.

Face:  Ask them to smile and see if their face is uneven or drooping on one side. That’s a strong indicator of a stroke
Arms: Make sure they can lift both arms evenly.
Speech: Ask them to repeat a phrase to see if they can still speak clearly.
Time: Every second brain cells die during a stroke.

It’s estimated that more than 2/3 of stroke survivors have some type of disability.

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