This is an archived article that was published on in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

May is Stroke Awareness Month. Stroke is a disease affecting the brain's arteries. Stroke is the fourth cause of death and a leading cause of disability.

Preventing a stroke is imperative to not have brain tissue loss. Changing a stroke's risk factors reduce the chance for a stroke.

Some risk factors can be modified, including: high blood pressure, smoking, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity and physical inactivity. Ask your doctor about simple blood tests to know your numbers.

Familiarize yourself with the warning signs. A helpful acronym is F.A.S.T.: notice if the individual's face (F) is dropping, if they are experiencing weakness in one arm (A) and if they are having difficulty with their speech (S), such as slurred words. Act fast and call 911 to decrease the time (T) the brain does not have blood flow (this limits the disability).

Heather Hayes member, Utah Stroke Task Force

Salt Lake City

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