New Hampshire stroke survivor stresses importance of knowing the stroke warning signs and acting quickly

New Hampshire stroke survivor stresses importance of knowing the stroke warning signs and acting quickly

Matt Neuman

A stroke can happen to anyone at any point in their lifetime. May is American Stroke Month and the American Stroke Association wants you to know how to reduce your stroke risk and learn the signs everyone should know to spot a stroke F.A.S.T. 

On Christmas Day, 2022, Matt Neuman received what he calls the greatest gift. “I had just finished opening presents with my two daughters, and I was starting to put Christmas dinner together. That’s when it happened,” said Neuman. “It was this wave of weirdness traveling up and down the left side of my body. I ended up passing out.” 

Neuman didn’t know what was happening. He thought it was a heart issue, but his smart watch suggested everything was fine. Many hours later, tests at the hospital  revealed the diagnosis: a minor stroke in his parietal lobe—the part of the brain that controls the five senses and depth perception. While the news was surprising, especially for someone who was just 48 years old, there were warning signs.   

Just months before, “I had my annual physical in which my doctor laid it out pretty clearly,” said Neuman.  “Although I wasn’t over the line on anything (blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes), I was approaching the line for all of them.”  He literally said, ‘if you don’t get these things under control, you will have a stroke.’” 

Heart disease and stroke are leading causes of death in the Granite State and stroke is a leading disabler. Globally, about one in four adults over the age of 25 will have a stroke in their lifetime. Even so, most adults in the U.S. don’t know the F.A.S.T warning signs of a stroke, and that stroke is highly treatable if you call 911 as soon as you recognize the symptoms. 

Learn how to spot a stroke F.A.S.T.: 

Face Drooping– Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven? 

  • Arm Weakness– Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? 
  • Speech Difficulty– Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” 
  • Time to Call 911– If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get to a hospital immediately. 

If someone is having a stroke, they must get medical attention right away. On average, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated. When brain cells die during a stroke, the abilities controlled by that area of the brain are lost. These abilities may include speech, movement, and memory. The way a stroke affects you depends on where the stroke occurs in the brain and how much of the brain is damaged. 

Today, Neuman has made major lifestyle changes including eating better, which led to him losing 65 pounds. “I had a follow up appointment recently where we looked over all of my numbers.  My doctor was tickled pink.” Miraculously, he has suffered no permanent effects from his stroke.  He continues to run a successful business and hopes his story will motivate others to take control of their health.  

I put myself right at the edge of cliff,” said Neuman. “I went a long time without doing an annual physical because I didn’t want to hear what the doctor had to say. If you do have a warning sign, deal with it.  Don’t worry about it tomorrow, worry about it today.  Not everybody was given the gift I was given, and I don’t say that lightly.”    

Approximately 800,000 people (equivalent to about half the population of Nebraska) in the United States have a stroke every year, but the large majority of strokes can be prevented. According to the Association, the best course of action is to understand controllable risk factors such as maintaining a healthy blood pressure level, eliminating smoking/vaping, increasing physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet to reduce the chance of stroke. 

For more information and resources to help prevent stroke, visitStroke.org/StrokeMonth.