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May is National Stroke Awareness Month

May is National Stroke Awareness Month and is an opportunity to review the signs, symptoms and risk factors for stroke.

After a stroke, minutes matter. Use the letters B-E-F-A-S-T to spot a stroke so you can get help as soon as possible:

May is National Stroke Awareness Month

B – Balance – Does the person have trouble walking, is feeling dizzy or experiencing loss of coordination or balance?
E – Eyes/Vision – Is the person experiencing trouble seeing in one or both eyes?
F – Facial Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or does it feel numb? 
Ask the person to smile – is the smile uneven?
A – Arm Weakness - Is one arm weak or feel numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Do you see a downward drift of their arms?
S – Speech - Does the person’s speech sound normal? Is there any slurring of their words or incomprehensible words/sounds when they try to speak?
T – Time - It is TIME to call or text 9-1-1. Don’t Delay! Make a note of when the symptoms started. What time was the person last “normal”?

Other signs and symptoms of a stroke:

  • Numbness or weakness of face, arms or leg, especially on one side more than the other can be signs of stroke.
  • Confusion – The person may have problems speaking or have difficulty understanding speech. 
  • Trouble Seeing – There may be problems with the person’s vision, including blurred vision, inability to see peripherally on one side, difficulty reading or not being able to see letters or words.
  • Trouble Walking – Dizziness, loss of coordination or balance can be signs of a stroke.
  • Severe Headache – Sudden onset of a severe “thunderclap” headache of unknown cause is another sign of a stroke.

Most of the symptoms for stroke are the same for men and women; however, women sometimes experience generalized weakness, disorientation, confusion or memory loss, fatigue, nausea or vomiting.  

Here are the common risk factors for stroke:

  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes (high blood sugar)
  • Physical Inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Smoking/chewing tobacco/vaping
  • Atrial Fibrillation
  • Heart Disease
  • Poor diet that includes processed foods or foods high in trans-fat, saturated fat

You can reduce your risk for stroke by making healthy choices, from not smoking to eating nutritious foods and engaging in an active lifestyle. Talk with your healthcare provider to learn more.

To learn more, listen to the recent Be Well podcast as Patti Brettell, MD, neurologist and Medical Director for the stroke program at Skagit Regional Health and Jay Biessel, DOEmergency Department provider and stroke champion at Skagit Regional Health, discuss strokes, the signs and symptoms and what you should do if one happens.

Need a doctor? Use our online search to find a provider near you.