May is Stroke Awareness Month across the country.
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States.
CentraCare Health says people need to act FAST at the first signs of a stroke. FAST means look for facial weakness, arm weakness, speech difficulties and T is for Time to call 911.
Around 130,000 people are killed each year and around 795,000 people have a new or recurrent stroke each year.
Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures.
When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes.
The resulting damage can lead to significant disability including paralysis, speech problems and emotional difficulties.
Other stroke symptoms also may include:
• Sudden severe headache without known cause
• Sudden weakness or numbness, sometimes on one side of the body
• Sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, or loss of balance/coordination
• Sudden confusion and trouble speaking or understanding
• Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Stroke risk factors
• High blood pressure
• Heavy alcohol use
• High cholesterol
• Physical inactivity and obesity
• Heart disease
• Atrial fibrillation (irregular heartbeat)
• Family history of stroke
Leading a healthy lifestyle, including lowering risks factors like high blood pressure and weight, can also help reduce your stroke risk.