Post-Irma health warning: Be aware of signs and symptoms of strokes

SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER

As Floridians recover from Hurricane Irma, health officials are asking individuals, especially those performing heavy physical activity, to be aware of the warning signs and symptoms of strokes.

Workers clean up trees fallen at Brickell Avenue and 20th Street in Miami after Hurricane Irma passed over South Florida on Sept. 12.
(PEDRO PORTAL/EL NUEVO HERALD/TNS)

A stroke can lead to severe brain damage and disability, or even death. A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is reduced, such as when a blood vessel to the brain bursts or is clogged by a blood clot.

This prevents the brain from getting the blood and oxygen it needs. Without oxygen, the nerves in the brain begin to die within minutes.

The type of disability caused by a stroke depends on the extent of brain damage and part of the brain damaged. The more time that passes without treatment, the greater the damage to the brain.

Warning signs
Call 9-1-1 to get medical help right away if you have one or more of the following warning signs of a stroke:
•Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
•Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
•Sudden confusion, trouble talking or understanding speech
•Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
•Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

F.A.S.T. test
The F.A.S.T. test is an easy way to remember these symptoms.

F.A.S.T. stands for:
F is for face: If one side of the face droops, it is a sign of a possible stroke.
A stands for arms: If the person cannot hold both arms out, this is another possible stroke sign.
S is for speech: Slurring words and poor understanding or comprehension of simple sentences is another possible stroke sign.
T stands for time: If any of the FAS signs are positive, it’s time to call 9-1-1 immediately.

Quick treatment
Treatment within three hours of a stroke can often reduce long-term effects. Rehabilitation and prompt medical treatment can help a person recover from the effects of stroke and prevent another stroke from occurring.

For further information, contact your local county health department or visit http://www.floridahealth.gov/diseases-and-conditions/stroke/index.html.

For more state and federal information on emergency and disaster planning, visit the following websites: www.FloridaDisaster.org, www.RedCross.org, www.ready.gov or www.fema.gov.  The Florida Emergency Information Line: 1-800-342-3557.

This information is courtesy of the Florida Department of Health.

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