Health Matters: Recognizing the Signs of a Stroke

In the United States, strokes are the number one cause of long term disability

HEALTH MATTERS — Every four minutes, somebody in the United States dies from a stroke.

Experts say people may not know what it looks like to experience the nation’s fifth highest cause of death.

In the United States, strokes are the number one cause of long term disability.

There are many people who live a normal life after experiencing a stroke.

That’s why knowing when to call 911 is so important.

“Anyone, at any time, at any age is at risk for having a stroke,” said Megan Carlblom, who is an RN and stroke program manager at Essentia Health.

The sooner you get treated for a stroke, the better.

“For every minute that you go without oxygen in your brain, two million brain cells die,” added Carlblom.

A stroke is a blockage in the vessel that prevents oxygen from getting to your brain tissue.

That’s what causes the stroke symptoms.

“FAST,” explained Carlblom. “It’s four letters. F-A-S-T and three numbers, 9-1-1.”

Carlblom says the acronym FAST can help us recognize the symptoms.

“F stands for facial drooping, A stands for arm weakness, also can be leg weakness,” she added. “S is for speech difficulty, and T is for time to call 911.”

If you suspect you someone is experiencing a stroke, there’re a few things you can do.

“For face you want to ask the person to smile and you’re looking for an uneven smile,” said Carlblom. “Ask the person to repeat a sentence, such as ‘the sky is blue’. If you notice any mumbled speech, or they aren’t able to comprehend what you are asking, it’s time to call 911.”

The symptoms of a stroke come suddenly and are typically not painful.

That’s why Carlblom says it’s important to recognize the signs.

“The treatment time is about out to four and a half hours for the thrombolytic drug, but it can be extended out to about 24 hours with endovascular therapy,” she said. “The sooner that you recognize the signs and the symptoms, the better.”

If you’re interested in learning more about prevention, you can join Essentia Health at its Stroke Awareness Luncheon on May 10th at the Delta by Marriott.

It’s free and open to the public.

If you would like to RSVP to the event, call Megan at 701-364-4398 or email her at

Find out more about strokes by clicking here.