Editorial: Act FAST; make healthy living choices

May. 28, 2013 @ 03:28 PM

So often we’re encouraged to act fast, to make sure we don’t miss an opportunity.

But as the month of May closes, and with it an emphasis on National Stroke Awareness Month, we’d like to encourage your actions to be relevant for what to do in the case of a stroke emergency.

If suspecting someone of having a stroke, do the following:

• Face: Ask him or her to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

• Arms: Ask him or her to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• Speech: Ask him or her to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he or she repeat the sentence correctly?

• Time: If the person has difficulty with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately. Time is important because brain cells are dying.

The acronym is FAST. Remembering it could be pivotal.

Two of three counties in our region have already staged major cancer awareness events, and Vance County has one in two weeks. But few of us realize stroke is the nation’s third-leading cause of death. More women will die from stroke than breast cancer or heart disease.

North Carolina’s rate of death is particularly high. We’re one of the Southeastern states commonly referred to as part of the Stroke Belt.

And while some may feel there’s little that can be done when a stroke happens, there is much that can be done then and to prevent it from happening. Regular physicals are a part of healthy living and, during those checkups, find out through testing if high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes or heart disease exists.

If any do, keep them checked. Diabetes should be managed and treated. Take medicine as prescribed. Conversations with a health care provider should happen regularly.

Regardless, maintain a healthy lifestyle. Diet, weight and exercise are keys. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also notes cigarette smoking greatly increases the risk for stroke.

Nationally, more than 140,000 people annually die from stroke.

Make good choices now, and remember to act FAST if in the presence of someone you suspect having a stroke.