It’s National Stroke Awareness Month — and since SC is a Stroke Belt state with the fifth-highest stroke death rate in the US, it’s important for all Soda Citizens to know the signs + symptoms of stroke (and how to act quickly).
First, the basics: ~87% of strokes occur when blood flow to the brain is blocked, resulting in brain cells dying within minutes. As each second passes, the potential for long-term brain damage (and the risk of death) increases — meaning that knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke is critical to getting a stroke victim the immediate medical attention they need. Read: The sooner, the better.
Here are the signs and symptoms Prisma Health‘s stroke specialists say you should know:
Symptoms of stroke
The symptoms of stroke come on suddenly and include severe headache, numbness, weakness, dizziness, slurred speech, confusion, or trouble seeing or walking. Since symptoms don’t always occur all at once, it’s important to call 911 immediately if you see or experience any of these symptoms — either on their own or in combination.
What to look for
Seeing any of these warning signs indicate it’s time to “BE FAST":
B – Balance off/dizziness
- Ask the person if they’re experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination.
E – Eyes
- Ask the person if they’re experiencing sudden blurred vision, double vision, or sudden, persistent vision trouble.
F – Face drooping
- Ask the person to smile. If the face droops on one side, that’s a sign of a stroke.
A – Arm weakness
- Ask the person to raise both arms. If they cannot hold one arm up, that’s a sign of a stroke.
S – Speech difficulty
- Ask the person to say a few easy words. If they talk with slurred speech or you can’t understand them, that’s a sign of a stroke.
T – Time to call 911
- Time is critical. The sooner an ambulance gets a stroke victim to a hospital, the better the chances of surviving or recovering (read: the longer you wait, the more damage may be done).
Looking for more life-saving stroke knowledge? See our Q+A with Prisma Health stroke specialists, the stroke risk factors everyone should know, and the specialized stroke care Prisma Health provides to Columbia. See Prisma Health’s stroke care.*
During a stroke, how many brain cells die every hour? (Hint: Compared with the normal rate of cell loss in brain aging, the brain ages 3.6 years each hour without treatment.) Take a guess.