Hamilton Medical Center (HMC) is encouraging community members to be aware about the dangers of stroke and steps to take to avoid stroke. May is National Stroke Awareness Month.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures.
When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, causing brain cells to die.
"It's so important to be treated quickly to minimize the effects of a stroke," said Meagan Darnell, HMC stroke program coordinator. "Knowing the signs of stroke could save your life or the life of a family member or friend. A stroke is definitely an emergency."
The B.E. F.A.S.T. acronym is a valuable tool to help identify a possible stroke. The letters stand for balance, eyes, face, arms, speech and time -- all factors in identifying and getting treated for stroke.
"When experiencing the symptoms of stroke, every second counts," said Darnell. "So does getting the right level of care as quickly as possible.
HMC has a nationally ranked, highly trained Rapid Stroke Team on staff.
To avoid a stroke, it is recommended to stay active, eat healthy, quit smoking, control cholesterol and watch your blood pressure.
B.E. F.A.S.T. -- Know the signs of a stroke
• Balance: Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
• Eyes: Is there sudden blurred or double vision or sudden, persistent vision trouble?
• Face: Ask the person to smile. Is one or both sides of the face drooping?
• Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one side drift downward? Is there weakness or numbness on one side?
• Speech: Does the person have slurred or garbled speech? Can he/she repeat simple phrases?
• Time: Call 911 for immediate medical attention if you notice one or more of these signs. Also, take note of when symptoms began.