May is National Stroke Awareness Month



very 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. Do you know the signs of a person having a stroke? And if so, would you know what to do?


Strokes can affect people of all ages and backgrounds. A stroke occurs when the flow of oxygen-rich blood to a portion of the brain is blocked. Without oxygen, brain cells start to die after a few minutes.


The most common symptom of a stroke is sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, most often on one side of the body. Other symptoms include confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding speech; difficulty seeing with one or both eyes; difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; severe headache with no known cause; fainting or unconsciousness. Call for emergency care (e.g., 9-1-1) immediately if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.


Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke

Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for the most effective treatments if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you observe any of these signs, call for emergency help immediately.

Note the time when any symptoms first appear. Some treatments for stroke only work if given in the first 3 hours after symptoms appear. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Source: CDC

The effects of a stroke depend on which part of the brain is injured and how severely it is affected. A very severe stroke can cause sudden death.


Demographic factors such as family history, age, sex and race/ethnicity can all play a role in an individual’s stroke risk. Regardless of your background, however, there are several things you can do to lower your chances of having a stroke.


The best treatment for stroke is prevention. There are several risk factors that increase your chances of having a stroke, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, smoking, diabetes and high cholesterol. Prevention includes blood pressure control, cholesterol management, regular exercise, a healthy diet that’s low in sodium, maintaining a healthy weight, prevention/control of diabetes and limiting alcohol intake (fewer than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women).


The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that “heart disease and stroke kill some 17 million people a year, which is almost one-third of all deaths globally. By 2020, heart disease and stroke will become the leading cause of both death and disability worldwide, with the number of fatalities projected to increase to more than 20 million a year.”


WiRED International has created a series of modules on stroke in our Learning Center in order to educate grassroots audiences on the fundamentals and dangers of stroke.


Learn More About Stroke:
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke:
National Stroke Association:
World Health Organization:



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