May is stroke awareness month – the perfect
time to learn how you can best protect yourself from this common, but
to Wake Forest Baptist
Health–Lexington Medical Center stroke director, Amy Guzik,
M.D., being aware of your personal risk factors for stroke can be lifesaving.
stroke can happen quickly and change your life instantly,” said Guzik. “Being
educated about the disease and knowing what to look for and how to respond can
lower your risk and even save your life.”
stroke happens when blood clotting or bleeding prevents blood flow to the brain
and causes cognitive, vision and speech deficits that can permanently affect
health and quality of life. According to the American Stroke Association,
someone in the United States suffers a stroke every 40 seconds, and someone
dies of stroke every four minutes.
knows that a heart attack comes with pain, but since a stroke doesn’t hurt, the
warning signs are often overlooked,” said Guzik. “Many people shake off signs
of stroke, thinking they slept funny the night before or are having a bad day,
but it’s important to take the signs seriously and get to the hospital as soon
Guzik said remembering the acronym FAST (Face,
Arm, Speech, Time to call
911) can help spot warning signs of stroke. Facial changes or drooping, leg or
arm weakness, changes in speech like slurring or difficulty forming words, or
having dizziness, imbalance or vision changes, all indicate a stroke.
also said it is important to know the major stroke risk factors, including:
fibrillation (a heart rhythm disorder that causes irregular heart beat)
with aura (a funny feeling before migraine)
apnea (snoring at night or waking up gasping for breath)
recommends that anyone who is experiencing any warning signs of a stroke should
call 911 immediately or visit the nearest emergency department. Getting medical
help immediately is critical, as most treatments are needed within three to
four hours after symptoms start.
Medical Center is part of Wake Forest Baptist’s Telestroke Network, a service
which provides 24-hour access to Wake Forest Baptist’s stroke experts for
patients at 20 community hospitals across North Carolina.