You might think of a stroke as a condition associated with older age, considering people aged 55 and older hold a higher risk of having one than do younger folks. But the tragic death of Luke Perry, who passed away after a massive stroke at age 52, has propelled many people to consider whether or not they’d recognize the symptoms of a stroke before it was too late.
WHAT IS A STROKE?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a particular part of the brain is severed. The interruption of blood flow can then cause brain cells to die, which can result in loss of memory and muscle control and ultimately lead to death.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF A STROKE?
Luckily, when it comes to identifying a possible stroke, there’s a handy acronym to have on mind: BE FAST. If you notice any of the following symptoms happening in yourself or in someone else, it’s important to remember that a stroke is a medical emergency and call 911 immediately. Try your best to note what time the symptoms began, because timeframe will become important in treatment options.
Here’s how to identify the warning signs of a stroke with BE FAST:
Are you experiencing sudden dizziness, having trouble balancing or experiencing a loss of coordination?
Are you suddenly having trouble seeing out of either one or both of your eyes?
When you smile, does one side of your face droop?
Try to raise both arms. Does one of your arms drop down?
Try to say a short phrase out loud. Does your speech sound slurred or otherwise unusual or strange?
If you answered yes to any of the questions above—or even if you just didn’t answer with a resounding “no”—then call 911 or seek help immediately. Make sure to take note of the time you noticed the symptoms beginning.
Other warning signs of a stroke to keep in mind include:
- A sudden feeling of weakness and/or numbness in your face, arm or leg, especially on only one side.
- Sudden trouble understanding what’s going on or sudden confusion.
- Sudden, piercing headache without any identifiable or likely cause.
The National Stroke Association has an interactive risk factor tool that’s designed to help you understand what the risk factors of strokes are—such as smoking, high blood pressure, and drinking—and how to then effectively reduce your risk of ever having one.