Every year, approximately 795,000 people in the Unites States have a stroke. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 137,000 Americans annually. Despite being one of the leading causes of death and causes of serious long-term disability, most people cannot identify the warning signs or risk factors of a stroke.

A stroke, or a “brain attack,” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of those happens, brain cells begin to die, and damage occurs. Two million brain cells die every minute during a stroke, increasing risk of permanent brain damage, disability, or death.

Luckily for our community, we have a leading Comprehensive Stroke Center at MemorialCare Long Beach Medical Center with a care team dedicated to the prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation of stroke. As one of the hospitals receiving the highest volumes of stroke patients within Los Angeles county, the Comprehensive Stroke Center offers highly trained medical experts and leading-edge technologies that are setting a new standard of care for stroke patients. The Stroke Center also has a dedicated treatment room within its Emergency Department equipped with advanced telemedicine technology that allows neurologists to quickly assess patients and communicate with on-site staff from anywhere, 24/7.

But, even though we are here to care for and serve you, if you were to have a stroke it’s equally as important to know the signs of a stroke. People may not realize that with a stroke, time lost is brain lost. So, it’s important to B.E. F.A.S.T. if you suspect someone is having or has had a stroke and call 911.

B.E. F.A.S.T., is an easy way to remember the warning signs of a stroke. When you recognize the warning signs and symptoms, you will know you need to quickly call for emergency medical help.

To recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke remember the acronym: B.E. F.A.S.T.

B: Balance – sudden loss of balance and coordination
E: Eyes – sudden trouble seeing or blurred vision

F: Face drooping – face drooping on one side or numbness
A: Arm or leg weakness – numbness especially on one side of the body
S: Speech difficulty – sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech.
T: Time – stroke is a medical emergency, call 911 immediately and note the time of the first symptom.

When it comes to stroke, prevention is key. An individual can reduce their risk of stroke by living a healthy lifestyle — controlling high blood pressure, abstaining from smoking, being physically active, maintaining a healthy body weight, managing diabetes, drinking alcohol moderately, or not at all, and managing a low fat, low cholesterol diet.

Ask your physician for tips on managing your current health conditions to reduce your risk of having a stroke. Take charge of your health, so you not only know how to reduce your risk but can recognize the signs of stroke.

Learn the warning signs and symptoms of stroke with B.E. F.A.S.T. If you suspect someone is experiencing a stroke call 911. When you know the signs of stroke, the life you save could be someone else’s or even your own.