Three Things Everyone Should Know About Heart Disease and Stroke

BlogHer Original Post

I received an email from a fellow BlogHer Nina Burokas yesterday, she suggested that I consider a post on stroke, and the three simple signs that we all should be aware of. Noticing one or more of these signs, and getting someone appropriate medical attention, could be the difference between recovery and death. I agree with Nina that this is very important information, and the more that it is blogged about, the more people that might be saved from understanding these signs of a stroke.

And, to any other BlogHers reading...I am open to any and all ideas for health and wellness posts, in fact I welcome them. I have a lot of confidence in my ability to research these subjects and write about them...However, "bloggers block" sometimes strikes and I need a little nudge in the "idea department". So please...SEND ME ALL YOUR IDEAS FOR HEALTH AND WELLNESS POSTS...(you can send some to Denise and Amanda too...but I think my "bloggers-block" is more serious than theirs, therefore I need many more ideas). Thanks.

Now about this topic. Stroke. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Someone suffers a stroke every 45 seconds, and nearly 168,000 die annually. Stroke is also a leading cause of severe, long-term disability as it can cause paralysis, vision problems, memory loss and speech problems.

Despite these staggering statistics, only 2% of American adults name stroke as the disease or health condition concerning them most, and 50% of adults do not believe they are even at risk for stroke.

A simple awareness of the early signs that a person is having a stroke, can lead to the patient getting medical attention within the first three hours of the stroke, and being successfully treated. See this (33 sec.) PSA...

Here is a link to an interactive graphic from MSNBC about the causes of stroke. Let's take some time to learn the three most important signs that can help you recognize if you or someone you know is having a stroke. It's been referred to as S-T-R...

S = Smile. Ask the person you suspect as being in trouble to smile. If their smile is uneven, crooked, or they are just having trouble trying to smile, this could be an important sign that they need to seek medical attention.

T = Talk. If you are talking to someone that can normally speak coherently and they begin to slur or have trouble with their speech, this is another important sign to seek immediate medical attention.

R = Raise both arms. Ask a person you suspect could be having a stroke to raise both their arms. If they can not, or have trouble raising just one arm, this is another important sign to seek medical attention.

*Just for the record, and I want this to be very clear - When I say "seek immediate medical attention", I mean call 9-1-1 or get to a hospital immediately! I do not mean, call your doctor. This is no time to wait for a doctors appointment, get to a hospital immediately.

The reason these signs happen, is because a stroke is attacking one side of the brain or the other. If a person has a stroke on the left side of their brain, their right side will be affected. If a person has a stroke on the right side of their brain, the left side will be affected. So, noticing a person having trouble with one side of their body, or droopiness to one side of their body is a very important early warning sign. The onset of these symptoms are not only ways to recognize the stroke, they are clear signs of the permanent affects this person will have if they do not get immediate help (and they are lucky enough to survive). As you saw in the above video, three hours is the time this person has to get medical treatment before their symptoms become pertinent (or kills them).

This is a (one minute) PSA from a man who waited six hours before seeking medical attention for the symptoms he was having, three hours too late to make a complete recovery.

Here is an article that BlogHer Kristin Park wrote about stroke and the symptoms to watch for, you can see more from Kristin who writes about her experiences with Postpartum Depression at PPD Survivor.

When asked what the major killer of women is, many would think of breast cancer. Interestingly, breast cancer is actually #9 on the list of the top ten diseases that kill women each year. At the very top is heart disease and at #3 is stroke.

Tragically, stroke doesn’t receive the attention it should. We often hear about breast cancer fundraisers happening in our communities around the country, from fun runs to galas. And yet twice as many women die from stroke than from breast cancer each year. In fact, it’s so common that four out of five American families are touched by stroke. According to the National Stroke Association, one half of all African-American women will die from stroke or heart disease.

The good news is that 80% of all strokes are preventable. Several times I’ve seen an e-mail floating around cyberspace in an attempt to raise awareness of how to prevent strokes. It states that anyone can recognize stroke symptoms by thinking F.A.S.T. This is an acronym for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time; key words to remind you to do the following.

  1. Ask the person to smile and notice if the side of his/her face is drooping.
  2. Ask the person to raise both arms and notice if one arm drifts downward.
  3. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and listen to see if the speech is slurred.
  4. If any of these signs are present, call 911.

For more information on stroke and stroke prevention, call 1-800-STROKES or visit

At there is an article about the increased risk of women having a stroke in mid-life.

WEDNESDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Twice as many American women than men are suffering strokes in middle age, a new study shows.

Just yesterday Reuters had an article titled "Migraines raise women's stroke risk"

DALLAS (Reuters) - Recent migraine headaches with visual symptoms often known as "aura" dramatically raise a woman's risk of stroke, researchers reported on Thursday in a study that adds to a growing body of evidence linking the two.

This PSA talks about the fact that an African American is twice as likely to have a stroke as a white American. I didn't know that.

Here is another (30 sec.) PSA imploring people to take action at the first sign of a stroke...

Also see these other BlogHer blogs:

A Hearty Life

Living With Heart Disease

Pulse of the Heart

Women's Health News

If you have had an experience with recognizing the signs of a stroke, please share your story in comments. Thanks.

Contributing Editor Catherine Morgan
also at Women 4 Hope and Informed Voters


In order to comment on, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.