Knowing Signs of Stroke is Important for All Ages

While stroke continues to be a leading cause of death among Americans, one study reported only 38 percent of people were aware of all major stroke symptoms and knew to call 911 immediately when any of these symptoms appear.


“Because stroke affects the brain and how someone perceives what is happening to them, the person having the stroke might not realize what is occurring,” said Fawzi Hindi, MD, Neurologist at Aspirus Spine & Neurosciences. “That is why it is crucial for everyone, no matter what your age, to know the signs of stroke.”


Effective treatment is available for strokes caused by a blood clot, which is about 80 percent of all cases. Patients who receive clot busting medication to restore blood flow to the brain within three hours have less disability and long-term effects than those who delayed care.


If you notice any of these signs in yourself or another person, call 911 immediately:


Every second counts – BE FAST:

  • BALANCE – Sudden loss of coordination or balance
  • EYES – Sudden change in vision
  • FACE – Sudden weakness on one side of the face or facial droop
  • ARM – Sudden arm or leg numbness or weakness
  • SPEECH – Sudden slurred speech, trouble speaking, trouble understanding speech
  • TERRIBLE HEADACHE – Sudden onset of a terrible headache


“There are things providers can do for someone after they have a stroke. We can manage it and change the course of what may have been death or disability, but to do that we need the patient, or your loved one, to come in as soon as possible,” says Dr. Hindi. “Do not delay. If your body is experiencing change that you are not used to, get assessed by a qualified professional as soon as possible.”


Although stroke risk does increase with age, a study in the American Heart Association (AHA) Journals found that the incidence of intracerebral hemorrhage strokes (ICH), when a blood vessel bursts in the brain, has been increasing in younger to middle-aged adults aged 18 to 44 years. Dr. Hindi says, “those with elevated risk for stroke are people with unhealthy lifestyles, such as smoking, and those with chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol. But strokes can happen amongst any patient, any age, and for multiple causes.”


In the younger population, inherited conditions, or physical trauma, can cause an increased stroke risk. This includes heart conditions, blood clotting disorders, high blood pressure, kidney disease, chronic migraine, aneurisms, or neck related trauma. Dr. Hindi says, “strokes can also be caused by certain types of medications, such as birth control with estrogen which affects the way the blood clots.”


The good news is that about 80 percent of strokes can be prevented. Everyone can do a great deal to lower their own risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle.


This includes working with your provider to manage any chronic health conditions. Making lifestyle changes such as quitting smoking, keeping your weight in check, exercising regularly, and eating right can go a long way to lower your risk of stroke.


Dr. Hindi advises people to “live well, exercise, eat well, sleep well and be happy. Your mental and emotional state impacts your body, so living a good and healthy life is one of the best ways to prevent stroke.”


Aspirus Health provides emergency stroke care system-wide at all Aspirus hospitals, with Aspirus Langlade Hospital, Aspirus Medford Hospital, and Aspirus Riverview Hospital receiving Advanced Certification as an Acute Stroke Ready Hospital by The Joint Commission and Aspirus Wausau Hospital Certified as a Primary Stroke Center.


May is National Stroke Awareness Month which aims to raise awareness about the prevention and treatment of strokes. Talk with your provider to learn about your stroke. Learn more at