Facts about stroke

Stroke is a cerebrovascular emergency that affects nearly 800,000 people every year in the U.S. About 85% result from clots in the blood vessels that bring blood and oxygen to the brain. Roughly 15% are due to bleeding into the brain tissue from a burst blood vessel.

There are several mnemonics used to help people identify when a person is having a stroke. One common mnemonic used by the National Stroke Association, the American Heart Association and other major national organizations is the acronym FAST. This stands for:

Facial drooping — such as a crooked smile

Arm (or leg) weakness — such as the inability to fully raise or lift one’s own arm or leg

Speech difficulties — such as slurred speech or speech that cannot be understood by a listener

Time — meaning time to call 911 and go to the hospital immediately

 If you see or experience any of these symptoms, call 911 to seek immediate medical help.

Visit the Barnes-Jewish Hospital website for more information on the Stroke Center.

Review the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Chronic medical conditions such as elevated blood pressure (hypertension), high cholesterol (hyperlipidemia), diabetes, smoking and obesity are some of the most common causes of stroke. A small percentage result from major traumas to the head or neck, blood vessel abnormalities such as aneurysms, abnormal development of protein deposits in the brain and genetic causes. While strokes can occur at any time, advancing age is another key risk factor for stroke.

Early identification and treatment is critical

Act fast if you think you or someone you know is having a stroke. Early treatment is essential to preserving brain function and limiting long term damage and even death. Studies have shown that patients who are brought to the emergency room earlier do better long-term than those whose care is significantly delayed.

Review the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke.