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FAST: Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke

FAST: Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in this country. One person dies from a stroke every four minutes. It’s a serious issue that requires older adults and their loved ones to be on guard.

May is designated as Stroke Awareness Month. It’s dedicated to helping people learn more about the risk factors and warning signs of a stroke. In honor of this month-long campaign, we share more information on both.

FAST: Remember the Warning Signs of a Stroke

FAST is an acronym that will help you identify the most common signs of a stroke:

  • Face: If you suspect a friend or family member is having a stroke, look at their face. During a stroke, one side of the mouth often droops. Ask them to smile. If their smile looks lopsided or different than usual, it is likely a concern. Not everyone who has a stroke gets a facial droop, but it is an indicator of stroke.
  • Arms: The next thing to explore is ability to use their arms. Ask the person to try to raise both arms over their head. If they are experiencing a stroke, they might not be able to lift one arm. If they can lift both arms, watch to see if one drifts downward. Being unable to hold both arms up can be a warning sign of a stroke.
  • Speech: Speech is the next thing to check. Ask the person a few questions or anything to get them talking. Problems speaking, slurred words, repetition of the same words or phrases, or unusual speech patterns should be taken very seriously. Because a stroke interrupts blood flow to the brain, speech problems are one of the most common warning signs.
  • Time: Every second counts when a person is having a stroke. If someone close to you is exhibiting any of the stroke symptoms listed above, call 911 without delay. Tell the dispatcher you suspect a stroke. Life-saving stroke medications are time-sensitive and calling 911 is usually the fastest way to summon help. Don’t wait to see if warning signs disappear on their own.

Combat Risk Factors for a Stroke

  1. Eat a well-balanced diet: Fill your plate with fresh fruits, vegetables, and low-fat proteins. Beans, nuts, and whole grains can also help. Healthy eating aids in weight control and cholesterol management, both of which can lower the odds of having a stroke.
  2. Watch your sodium: While your physician is the best person to determine how much is too much, sodium intake should usually be limited to 1500 mg a day to avoid high blood pressure or prehypertension. Both conditions increase stroke risk.
  3. Don’t smoke: Smokers are twice as likely to experience a stroke as their non-smoking peers. If you are a smoker, commit to quitting. Research shows smokers who quit add up to 3.4 more years to their life.
  4. Stay active: A sedentary lifestyle is now considered just as risky as smoking. Stay active and avoid sitting for long periods of time.

You can learn more about stroke prevention by taking this quick Test Your Stroke IQ quiz.

A Unique Approach to Aging

At Five Star Senior Living communities, we take a unique approach to resident care. Our three pillars—Health & Wellness, Warmth & Hospitality, and Dining & Nutrition—ensure residents enjoy their best quality of life.

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