It has been about four months since my mom had a major stroke and I am truly grateful that not only did I call her, but I knew what to ask her while we were on the phone. It is National Stroke Awareness Month and I wanted to remind people to pay attention to their loved ones and recognize the signs. My mom had no idea that she was showing many of the signs while she was having a stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say that one in five women between the ages of fifty-five and seventy-five will have a stroke and strokes kill two times as many women as breast cancer. These stats are shocking but you can do your part to look for the signs. Four out of five strokes can be prevented.

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We were fortunate because, while talking with my mom on the phone, I immediately knew something wasn't right. My fiancee, Jenn, started to ask my mom the questions that you should if you think someone might be experiencing a stroke. The key thing is that we knew she wasn't speaking coherently. Time is of the essence.

The acronym is BE FAST and although we didn't remember all of the parts to this, we knew enough to recognize that my mom needed help and to call for an ambulance.

Balance- Are they having trouble with balance or coordination?
Eyes- Experiencing sudden blurry or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
Face drooping- Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop or is it numb?
Arm weakness- Is one arm weak or numb? Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
Speech difficulty- Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is the sentence repeated correctly? Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand?
Time- Someone experiencing the above symptoms should get immediate medical attention, even if the symptoms go away. Call 911 or take the person to the hospital.

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