All too often people believe that a stroke is something that only happens to older people; however, stroke can strike any age.  For this reason the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms cannot be overstated.

The acronym FAST will help you remember, and notice, signs that someone may be suffering a stroke.

F – FACE  Is there any facial drooping?  Ask the person to smile and notice whether one side of the mouth droops.

A – ARMS  Is there arm weakness or weakness on one side of the body?  Ask the person to raise their arms and notice whether one arm sinks.  There may also be weakness in one leg.

S – SPEECH  Is there difficulty in speaking?  A person suffering a stroke may slur, use nonsensical words or not be able to speak at all.

T – TIME  Time is critical!  Call 911!  Do not drive the person yourself.  Clot-busting medication can be given within a certain period of time and the ambulance can begin the assessment and call ahead to the ER to begin preparations.  No one can drive faster than an ambulance.

While the possibility of stroke increases with age, the facts are that many controllable risk factors are present in younger people.  As a result, it is not uncommon for individuals in their 40’s and 50’s, or younger, to suffer a stroke.  People of every age should be aware of the controllable risk factors and do what they can to make improvements.  But at the same time awareness of uncontrollable factors is necessary.

Most common controllable risk factors:

  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Obesity
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • High cholesterol

Most common uncontrollable risk factors:

  • Age – overall risk increase over the age of 55
  • Gender – more likely in older women and younger men
  • Race – African-Americans have a higher risk
  • Family history
  • Previous stroke or TIA (“mini-stroke”)

Texas Health Rockwall is a Primary Stroke Center and offers free, in-depth stroke awareness presentations to local businesses, individuals and organizations.  If you are interested in scheduling a presentation please contact Melanie Mayfield at 469-698-1534.

For more information about stroke please visit www.stroke.org