May 2, 2019

May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is a common but serious medical condition in which blood flow to the brain is interrupted. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S.

Cook County Health would like to remind readers about the importance of immediate action when someone is suspected to be having a stroke. A fast response can mean a huge difference in recovery.

To determine if someone is having a stroke, remember “FAST.”

• Face: Smile and see if one side of the face droops.
• Arms: Raise both arms. Does one arm drop down?
• Speech: Say a short phrase and check for slurred or strange speech.
• Time: If the answer to any of these is yes, call 911 right away and write down the time when symptoms started.

Sometimes a stroke happens gradually, but someone is like to have one or more of these sudden symptoms, including:

• Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side
• Confusion or trouble understanding other people
• Difficulty speaking
• Trouble seeing with one or both eyes
• Problems walking or with balance and coordination
• Dizziness
• Severe headache that comes on for no reason

John H. Stroger Jr. Hospital of Cook County is a Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Center, nationally recognized for long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients by The American Heart Association and The American Stroke Association.