May is National Stroke Awareness Month. In order to help the community better understand the risk factors and symptoms of stroke, Weems Memorial Hospital is promoting stroke awareness in Franklin County.

"Time is crucial in the treatment of stroke, as on average, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke and roughly every four minutes someone dies from a stroke," said Weems emergency room physician, Pat Conrad, M.D. "The earlier a stroke is recognized and the patient receives medical attention, the greater chance of recovery."

Strokes occur when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and vital nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When this occurs, part of the brain is deprived of blood and oxygen, destroying millions of valuable nerve cells within minutes.

"If you suspect a stroke, remember the word FAST or F-A-S-T," said Conrad. "F is for face - is your face drooping? A is for arms - can you lift both arms? S is for speech - are you slurring your words and T is for time, call 911 immediately because with stroke, time is brain."

The primary stroke symptoms include:


Stroke is a leading cause of death and serious, long-term disability in the United States.' According to the American Stroke Association, approximately 795,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke each year, and 87 percent of these are ischemic strokes.An acute ischemic stroke occurs when an obstruction, such as a blood clot, blocks blood flow to the brain. The obstruction deprives the brain of blood and oxygen, destroying valuable nerve cells in the affected area within minutes. The resulting damage can lead to significant disability including paralysis, speech problems and emotional difficulties·

Treatment may be available if you get to the emergency room immediately upon recognition of stroke symptoms. Leading a healthy lifestyle, including lowering risk factors like high blood pressure and weight, can also help reduce your stroke risk.

For more information about stroke, visit or call Becky Gibson, Weems Memorial Hospital at 653-8853 ext. 108.

George E. Weems Memorial Hospital is presenting this column as a public service.