One out of six people will suffer from a stroke in their lifetime. The attack cuts off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain, which can kill two million brain cells in just 60 seconds.
But despite this threat, few Americans know how to prevent and treat a stroke.
Dr. Manny Alvarez, senior managing health editor of FoxNews.com, recently sat down with cardiologist Mark Turco, the chief medical officer at Covidien Vascular Therapies to talk about stroke awareness.
Turco teamed up with the World Stroke Organization and its global "Take 2…Tell 2" campaign to encourage people to take two minutes to learn the causes of, warning signs for and treatment for stroke— and then take two minutes to tell two people about what you’ve learned.
This sharing of information is important, as stroke can affect anyone at any age.
“Children can have strokes, people under 40 can have strokes, and one in 5 women have strokes, while 1 in 6 men can have strokes,” Turco said.
Even though one specific patient group is not at a higher risk, some conditions can increase your chances of a stroke.
The most common risk factors include:
- Alcohol consumption
- High blood pressure
- Sedentary lifestyle
Time is crucial when caring for a stroke patient, but many Americans don’t know what warning signs to look out for. According to a Covidien-World Stroke Organization survey, about 1 in 5 adults recognize slurred speech, facial or arm numbness and headaches as symptoms.
“Sometimes the symptoms can be subtle, so you can think someone is just kind of tired, but the lack of awareness can lead to patients not receiving treatment in a timely manner,” Turco said.
You can learn and remember the signs and symptoms by using the FAST acronym.
F- Facial drooping, one side of the face droops or becomes numb.
A- Arm or leg weakness, if one arm is weak or numb. Ask a patient to raise their arms and see if they can hold it up.
S- Speech disturbances, slurred speech or having difficulty understanding what is being spoken.
T- Time; stroke is a very time-dependent problem, if you recognize any of these signs call 9-1-1.
Today, there are newer treatments that can reduce some of the long-term disabilities some patients suffer from after experiencing a stroke.
“I had practiced medicine for a long time and I remember the days where we had very little to offer stroke patients. Today mechanical treatments can now be offered at many stroke centers around the country,” Turco said. “You can go in and use devices like stent retrievers and remove pieces of blood clot to open up that artery again and allow oxygenated blood flow.”
For more information about the signs and symptoms of stroke, visit Take2ForStroke.com.