May is National Stroke Awareness Month, so SageWest Health Care is taking a second to help you recognize strokes. First, there are two main types of stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks blood flow in an artery within the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke, however, occurs when a blood vessel leaks or ruptures within the brain. Its major subtype, intracerebral (bleeding within the skull) hemorrhage (ICH) can be serious and have serious consequences.

While it’s not always possible to prevent a stroke, avoiding smoking, getting regular exercise and following a nutritious diet may help! Strokes have been known to affect people of all ages, races, demographics and across all other socioeconomic lines so it’s important to know the symptoms of a stroke.

Always remember to act and B. E. F.A.S.T.

• B = Balance – Loss of balance, headache or dizziness

• E = Eyes – Blurred vision

• F = Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

• A = Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• S = Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred?

• T = Time to call 911

Immediate treatment is critical as ICH and other strokes can be life-threatening. Emergency care often focuses on controlling bleeding and reducing pressure in the brain.

The relationship you have with your doctor is critical to understanding whether you are at higher risk. During your next check-up, ask about strokes and even develop an emergency plan that involves close friends and family members to ensure you get swift access to care if needed.