My mother had a massive stroke caused by a brain aneurysm when she was only 28. She survived the stroke but to this day, at age 71, she still lives with the consequences. Her whole life changed because of that event. I never met my grandfather, my mother’s dad, because he died of a stroke the year I was born. How’s that for family history?
After my mother’s stroke, doctors told my grandmother, already a widow, that her daughter would remain in a vegetative state for the rest of her life. But with dogged determination my mother recovered to a large extent. She coexists with disabilities such as impaired peripheral vision and having to become left-handed because her entire right side was affected and undergoing angiograms and a number of other procedures every so often. My mother’s stroke happened in 1971. I’m assuming that back then they did not have the awareness we now have on how to recognize the signs of a stroke and what to do when it happens. If you see (F)ace drooping, (A)rm weakness, or (S)peech difficulty, it’s (T)ime to call 9-1-1. That can help the patient get to the hospital in time to receive treatment in the first hour after the stroke, which greatly improves their chances of a positive outcome.
Who is at risk for a stroke?
Recently I’ve read about at least three people in my online network who have died of a stroke. These were people close to my age, 51. But as in my mother’s case, it could also happen at a younger age. Being a hypochondriac and with my family’s medical history, I have a difficult time talking about strokes. Yet I feel it’s my responsibility to raise awareness and to make sure my family is informed of the signs of a stroke and what needs to be done as soon as it is recognized.
Not to scare you, but really, a stroke can hit anyone at any age. Some celebrity stroke survivors are actress Sharon Stone, Beau Biden (vicepresident Joe Biden’s son), New England Patriots line-backer Tedy Bruschy (he was 31 when he had a mild stroke in 2005) and CBS Weatherman Mark McEwen. These are just some of the faces of survival. Many others didn’t live to tell their story. Perhaps it was inevitable, or perhaps they were alone or the people they were with didn’t recognize the symptoms or know what to do.
Only 8 percent of us can identify each letter in the F.A.S.T. acronym. This means most people may not be able to recognize the stroke symptoms so stroke patients may not get the help they need in time to have a positive outcome. It turns out Hispanic women are less likely than others to know the warning signs of a stroke. So let’s get informed.
Why it’s so important to act F.A.S.T
Everyone needs to learn the stroke warning signs, because the person having a stroke isn’t always able to recognize it or call 9-1-1. That’s when they need you to be a hero. Calling 9-1-1 at the first sign of a stroke gives someone a greater chance of getting to an appropriate hospital quickly and being assessed for treatment options like a clot-busting drug and medical devices that may make a remarkable difference in their recovery.
Do you know the acronym F.A.S.T.? Take the quiz at StrokeAssociation.org in English or Spanish. Through the Together to End Stroke initiative, nationally sponsored by Medtronic, you will learn the acronym F.A.S.T. as an easy way to recognize the most common stroke warning signs and what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke. Once again, if you see (F)ace drooping, (A)rm weakness, or (S)peech difficulty, it’s (T)ime to call 9-1-1.
Join other stroke heroes who have the free “Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.” app at StrokeAssociation.org.
Join me at #HeroHour on Twitter
In order to raise awareness, Viva Fifty! and I are moderating and cohosting the Twitter event #HeroHour on May 13 at 3pm EST.
Make sure to RSVP on Facebook
Co-hosts: @VivaFifty @EileenCCampos @Triathlonmami @LauraLcbl
Giveaways: signed merchandise by Indiana Pacers basketball star (and Stroke Hero), Paul George, and gift cards to the American Heart Association’s exclusive online shop at ShopHeart.org!