Recognizing the signs of stroke early on can save your life.

Today there are treatments that can reduce the risk of damage from the most common type of stroke, but only if you get help quickly — within three hours of your first symptoms.

Strokes kill about 140,000 Americans each year, according to statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. This number translates to 1 out of every 20 deaths. Stroke is the third cause of death in the US.

And while we often associate stroke with the elderly, that isn’t always the case. About 10 percent of stroke cases are in young people between the ages of 18 and 50. When younger people have strokes, it’s usually for different reasons; the most common cause being a dissection, when a blood vessel tears, causing a clot that subsequently cuts off blood to part of the brain.

Know the warning signs and symptoms of stroke so you can act fast if you or someone you know might be having a stroke. The chances of survival are greater when emergency treatment begins quickly.

In one CDC survey, some 93 percent of respondents recognized sudden numbness on one side as a symptom of stroke. But only 38 percent were aware of all major symptoms, and knew to call 9-1-1 if someone was exhibiting these signs.

Likewise, the patients who arrived at the emergency room within the first three hours often showed less disabilities three months after the stroke, compared to those who sought treatment after the critical three-hour mark.

Genetic factors play a role in your risk for stroke, but so does a history of smoking, metabolic diseases, obesity, diet and a sedentary lifestyle.

Unlike heart attacks, men and women often experience the same onset symptoms of a stroke. If you experience the following, call 9-1-1 immediately:

  • Balance: A sudden loss of balance or coordination, trouble walking and dizziness
  • Eyes: A sudden change in vision in one or both eyes
  • Face: A drooping in one side of the face
  • Arms: If raising arms, one drifts downward
  • Speech: Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Time: If experiencing any of these symptoms, time is of the essence.

In addition to these symptoms, a sudden, severe headache with no known cause could be a sign of a stroke. With so many symptoms to consider, remembering to BE FAST (balance, eyes, face, arms, speech and time) could save your life.

If you are experiencing symptoms of a stroke or other medical emergency, don’t delay seeking emergency care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please seek care when you need it.