According to a recent survey from the American Stroke Association, only 8 percent of Americans could readily identify what each letter in the acronym “F.A.S.T.” (used to help ID stroke symptoms) stood for. (Curious?: face drooping, arm weakness, slurred speech, and time to call 911). Yet stroke is a leading cause of death, killing nearly 130,000 Americans each year—that’s one of every 20 deaths. Here’s how to spot the warning signs:
Signs it may be a stroke
These symptoms come on suddenly, and you may not experience all of them.
• Numbness, tingling or weakness of the face, arm or leg
• Trouble speaking or confusion
• Vision problems
• Severe headache and/or dizziness
What are stroke risk factors?
Along with smoking, risk factors for strokes in women under the age of 55 include:
• High blood pressure or high cholesterol
• Conditions such as diabetes and lupus
• Use of birth control pills
• Migraine headaches with auras
Clotting disorders can also cause stroke. Women who have had more than one miscarriage, for example, may be at higher risk for blood clots, as are women with a history of leg clots (or deep vein thromboses). The same goes if you have a vascular condition called livedo reticularis, characterized by mottled, purple-red patterns on the skin.
March/April 2010 issue of Best Health magazine