Each year, nearly 5,000 Mississippians experience their first stroke, and more than 1,500 die from one.
May is stroke awareness month.
According to the American Stroke Association, the risk for stroke increases with each decade after age 55.
Men and those with a family history of stroke are at a higher risk of stroke.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel carrying blood to the brain is either blocked or bursts, and acting fast can mean the difference between life and death.
When it comes to the major symptoms of a stroke, the quickest way to evaluate whether someone may be having a stroke is to "think f.a.s.t.!"
F: Face- Numbness or weakness on one side of the patient's face, arm or leg.
A: Arm: If the person can't extend both arms out in front of him or her without one arm dropping.
S: Speech- Having trouble speaking, difficult to understand, or has trouble understanding you.
T: Time- It is imperative to call 911, or get the person to the nearest emergency room to minimize brain damage!
"In the ER you can do some damage control. You can get the CT scan and determine what kind of stroke it is, and you can give them the right medication to hopefully do some good damage control," says doctor Jose Fernandez.
Fernandez is a neurologist for Hattiesburg Clinic and Forrest General Hospital. He claims stroke could affect anybody, but says there are certain risk factors.
"High blood pressure; smoking; high cholesterol; diabetes."
Smoking raises your blood pressure, and increases your chances of stroke.
"Each time you smoke, you narrow the blood vessels for about 19 hours per cigarette," says Fernandez.
How can one reduce the risk of a stroke?
"A healthy lifestyle includes a good diet and exercise," says Fernandez.
Fernandez advises people to control their cholesterol intake, as well as to monitor sugar and salt intake.
"Those much decrease your chance of having a stroke."