Health Report: Stroke Signs and Symptoms

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Stroke is the 6th leading cause of death in Alaska.
Rhiannon Walker sat down with a local cardiologist to talk about the signs and symptoms in this week's Health Report.

While stroke may be the sixth leading cause of death in Alaska, it ranks third in the entire nation, with more than 140,000 people dying each year.
While the death toll is thankfully rather low, the number of people who suffer a stroke is a staggering 795,000, with nearly 600,000 being the first attack.
Cardiologist at Fairbanks Porter Heart Center, Romel Wrenn, talked about F-A-S-T, as a way to know the symptoms of a stroke.

Romel Wernn; Cardiologist - Porter Heart Center>>"F for face, there is facial numbness. A for arm, having numbness or weakness in the arm. S for speech, slurred speech. And then T for time, that is, if you have those symptoms, then you need to call 911 and do something."

In more recent years, it was brought up that people were missing the strokes that can happen at the base of the neck, so B-E was added to the acronym.
B for balance, and E for eyesight. A person suffering a stroke may have issues with balance or vertigo, but they can also have blurry vision, or lose their sight.
Doctor Wrenn stressed why time is of the essences when someone is suffering a stroke.

Romel Wernn; Cardiologist - Porter Heart Center>>"If we wait too long then it is too late for us to do anything."

If someone is suffering a stroke, the first step is to call 911.
According to Doctor Wrenn, it is ok to give the person aspirin but, if they are experiencing a severe headache, they need to be seen straightaway because they may be suffering a bleed.

Romel Wernn; Cardiologist - Porter Heart Center>>"Within the first hour, maybe up to 90 minutes, something can be done with clot busters to treat a stroke, after the person is evaluate to be sure it is not a bleed."

A few ways to reduce the risk of a stroke, is to keep blood pressure in check, avoid tobacco, and keep a well-balanced diet with anti-inflammatory foods.