Recognizing the Signs
When a stroke happens, recognizing and responding to signs quickly can make all the difference
The irony of the moment couldn’t have been more obvious that day. During lunch with her friend, Julie Voigt of San Diego, California, said, "I’m really lucky that I didn’t have a stroke. My family has a real, real history of it, with my aunt…"
Just then her words slurred and she leaned to one side, unable to hold herself up. Julie’s luck had run out.
Immediately someone called 9-1-1 and Julie was rushed to a hospital where she received a clot-busting drug, which didn’t fully work. The clot was still there, so her doctor used a clot retrieval device.
Quick recognition of Julie’s stroke signs and a speedy 9-1-1 call, combined with lightning-fast EMS response and hospital staff expertise saved her life and enabled a full recovery.
Someone like Julie has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States.
During American Stroke Month in May, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association asks all Americans to learn two things that may save a life:
- Know if you are at risk for stroke.
- Know the stroke warning signs and what to do in a stroke emergency.
"Knowing if you are at risk for stroke is highly important, because many risk factors can be modified and controlled," said Jeffrey L. Saver, M.D., professor of neurology and director of the Comprehensive Stroke Center at University of California Los Angeles, and American Stroke Association spokesperson. "The number one stroke risk factor is high blood pressure. It’s important to check your blood pressure regularly and talk to your doctor about healthy levels for you."
The American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative provides information and tools to help prevent, treat and beat stroke. Our free stroke risk assessment helps individuals evaluate their personal stroke risk and work with their doctor to begin a prevention plan.
F — Face Drooping
A — Arm Weakness
S — Speech Difficulty
T — Time to call 9-1-1
"Prevention is the best cure, but in the event of a stroke emergency, quick recognition and treatment may have a dramatic impact on the outcome," said Mark Turco, M.D., chief medical officer, Covidien Vascular Therapies. "If you are at risk for stroke or spend time with someone who is, learning and sharing the stroke warning signs should be a priority."
Additional stroke signs include: Sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding.
Together to End Stroke offers a free "Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T." mobile app for iOS and Android, including the warning signs and a searchable map to find local hospitals recognized for heart and stroke care.
We encourage you to share this story with others during American Stroke Month in May. Together we can end stroke.
Watch Julie’s story and the people who helped her get help F.A.S.T.