May is American Stroke Month and the American Stroke Association wants everyone to know that stroke is preventable and treatable.

ROBBINSVILLE, NJ—According to the American Stroke Association, nearly 800,000 people have a stroke each year, which means someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the U.S.   During American Stroke Month this May, the American Stroke Association urges the public to know that stroke is largely preventable and treatable. 

Stroke, the No. 5 cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability, occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.  According to the American Stroke Association, nearly 2 million brain cells die each minute a stroke goes untreated.  The faster you are treated, the more likely you are to recover without permanent disability. Most patients must be evaluated and treated within 3 to 4.5 hours of symptom onset.

“When someone experiences a stroke, time equals brain,” states Carole Thomas, MD, a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association and Director of Stroke Services for Virtua. “Knowing the warning the signs of stroke and getting help immediately can make a huge difference in a stroke patient’s recovery.”

Anyone can have a stroke, and everyone should be ready to act if you or someone you know experiences the warning signs.  Most of the time a bystander makes the decision to seek treatment on behalf of someone having a stroke.  Research shows ambulances are most effective at getting you to an appropriate hospital and evaluated within the narrow stroke treatment window.  A stroke patient must get help immediately, but only 9 percent of Americans surveyed could identify each letter in the F.A.S.T. acronym for stroke.

You don’t need superpowers to be a stroke hero, but you do need to pay attention to the risk factors and know the warning signs. The American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative, nationally sponsored by Medtronic, teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember the most common signs of stroke. If you spot sudden (F)ace drooping, (A)rm weakness, or (S)peech difficulty, it’s (T)ime to call 911.

You can be a stroke hero by learning the warning signs, F.A.S.T.  Visit www.StrokeAssociation.org/strokehero to take a quiz and discover your superpower.