Be Stroke Savvy

Forget "Time is Money"—During a Stroke, "Time is Brain"


A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery, or a blood vessel breaks in the area of the brain, causing damage to brain cells. Without blood and the oxygen it carries, part of the brain starts to die. The part of the body controlled by the damaged area of the brain can’t work properly.

Strokes can and do occur at ANY age. They’re the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 140,000 people die each year from stroke in the U.S. and approximately 795,000 suffer a stroke each year.

Brain damage can begin within minutes, so it is important to know the symptoms of stroke and act fast. If a stroke is diagnosed quickly—within the first 3 hours of when symptoms start— chances of a speedy or full recovery increase dramatically. Time is brain.


If someone is exhibiting signs of a stroke, use the FAST test to indicate if the person is having a stroke:

  • Face:  Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately and make sure you note the time. Time is brain matter, the sooner the better.

Signs of a Stroke

Call 911 at the first sign of these common symptoms:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg—especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Flu-like symptoms or appearance of inebriation

Up to 80% of Stokes Can Be Prevented

You can lower your risk of stroke by making some important lifestyle decisions:

  • Don’t smoke. Smoking doubles your stroke risk
  • Eat healthy
  • Avoid partially hydrogenated oil
  • Drink in moderation
  • Exercise daily. Join a class, group, or team.
  • Control diabetes
  • Achieve and maintain a healthy weight
  • Know your numbers (blood pressure and cholesterol)
  • Talk to your doctor about your stroke risk

For More Information

Check out and for tons of great information on preventing and treating strokes.

Also check out another article we’ve posted from Vision Service Plan (VSP) about how your optometrist can uncover a variety of health problems including stroke.

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