I learned the hard way. I hope you won’t.
Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke (caused when a vessel in the brain ruptures or is blocked by a clot). Last December, it happened to me.
I wish I’d better known then how to recognize and respond to the signs of a stroke, the No. 4 cause of death in the United States (one death every four minutes) and the No. 1 cause of preventable disability worldwide.
In connection with this year’s World Stroke Day, Oct. 29, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association remind us all that a stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable.
Be prepared by learning and sharing the FAST acronym — Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 911 — and responding quickly. Ischemic stroke patients should receive treatment within the first three to four hours. As my own physician counsels, “Time is brain.” Rapid, early treatment can prevent long-term damage and offers the best chance of recovery.
You can reduce your risk for stroke by managing your blood pressure, eating better, getting physically active, losing excess weight, lowering your cholesterol, reducing your blood sugar and not smoking, the American Stroke Association advises.
Read more at www.strokeassociation.org, a particularly helpful resource for stroke survivors and caregivers.
As this holiday season approaches, I’m particularly grateful to be among those survivors. Please protect yourselves and those you love— memorize FAST and take quick action if needed. The stakes are just too high not to.
Larry N. Vanderhoef
UC Davis chancellor emeritus, Davis