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Office Visit: BE FASTT When it Comes to Recognizing Signs of Stroke

By Todd Hoffman, M.D.
Note: This article appeared as a guest column in the Journal Record 

Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in women, according to the American Heart Association. One in five women will experience a stroke during their lifetime and approximately 55,000 more women than men will have a stroke each year.

Symptoms can appear quickly for those who experience a stroke. The B.E.F.A.S.T.T. acronym is important to know if you, or someone you know, experiences a stroke. Time is of the essence, so remember to BE FASTT:

Balance: Sudden dizziness or loss of balance
Eyes: Blurred vision
Face: Uneven smile or facial droop
Arm: Weakness or numbness
Speech: Slurred speech, difficulty speaking or understanding
Terrible headache: Sudden, severe headache
Time: Call 911 immediately if you or someone you know is experiencing these signs. Do not drive yourself to the hospital.  

General weakness, confusion or memory problems, increased fatigue or nausea are additional stroke symptoms more commonly found in women.  

BCBSIL CMO Dr. Todd Hoffman

Todd Hoffman, M.D.

May is Stroke Awareness Month, and the good news for women is that 80% of strokes are preventable.

The single important factor in decreasing the likelihood of a stroke is maintaining a healthy blood pressure range (less than 120/80 mmHg). Regular monitoring of your blood pressure with a health care professional is important.

Pregnancy can increase the risk of stroke. Some develop preeclampsia (high blood pressure) during the gestation period. Postmenopausal women that use hormone replacement therapy, those who smoke and those who have atrial fibrillation also have an increased risk. In all cases, consult with a health care professional about action steps to help decrease your likelihood of experiencing a stroke.

You know your body better than anyone so be an active advocate for your health and wellness.

Make it a good month!

Todd Hoffman, M.D., C.P.E., is chief medical officer of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma, a division of Health Care Service Corp., a Mutual Legal Reserve Company.

A Division of Health Care Service Corporation, a Mutual Legal Reserve Company, an Independent Licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association