May marks the return of one of my favorite times of the year. Memorial Day, cookouts, long weekends, later sunsets and the annual summer blockbusters. I’m a movie buff, and love everything about them. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of sitting in a darkened theatre with oversized chairs and a larger-than-life screen, leaning back and being taken to far off, imaginary lands filled with swashbuckling pirates, over-the-top action sequences, and of course, those mischievous little yellow jelly beans vying for world domination.
This May we’ll be treated to not one but two superhero movies. It’s fitting, since May is American Stroke Month and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association hope to turn regular people into Stroke Heroes. It doesn’t take X-ray vision, a cape or a belt filled with crazy gadgets to be a Stroke Hero. All that’s needed is to know a simple acronym, F.A.S.T.
Those letters represent the warning signs of stroke:
- Face drooping. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
- Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- Speech slurred. Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
- Time to call 9-1-1. If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.
Click here for an infographic on the signs and symptoms.
Stroke Heroes know that every 40 seconds someone has a stroke. It will affect one out of six people in their lifetime. They also know that stroke is the leading cause of disability and the number five cause of death in the United States. Unfortunately only one in three Americans is able to identify all the F.A.S.T. stroke warning signs.
Stroke Heroes are ready to act quickly. They might help make the difference between life and death or between full recovery and permanent disability. They’re the heroes we all want around us, to help if we need them. They’re the heroes we all want to be, whose stories are true blockbusters.
Sean Dreher has been the communications director for the Toledo and Northwest Ohio Division of the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association since 2015.