Victoria King, a resident of Magnolia, was a senior in college when she discovered that stroke doesn’t discriminate based on age.
King had suffered from migraines most of her life. But at age 21, when she experienced the worst headache of her life and then lost feeling on the entire right side of her body, King knew she was experiencing the warning signs of stroke. Despite this, she didn’t call 9-1-1 because she didn’t think a stroke could happen to an otherwise healthy 21-year-old.
Although many young people probably feel the same as King, according to research in the Journal of the American Heart Association published in November 2016, stroke rates more than doubled in people 35 to 39 years in the last two decades.
King, now 27, works with the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association to spread awareness for the warning signs of stroke.
“I want people to be aware of the signs of stroke, learn what to look for, and be smarter than myself in taking action to save their own lives and the lives of people around them,” stated King.
A stroke is caused by a blocked or ruptured artery that prevents blood flow in the brain. With nearly 2 million brain cells dying every minute during a stroke, time is brain. While King is lucky that she has limited disabilities from her stroke, her symptoms indicated that she needed to call 9-1-1 FAST. The American Stroke Association suggests using the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember the most common symptoms of stroke:
- 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 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.
The good news is, when you get help quickly, stroke is largely treatable, but it is also preventable.
While several risk factors for stroke can’t be changed, such as family history, age, race and gender, the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association suggests that nearly 80 percent of strokes can be prevented with simple lifestyle modifications. There are seven simple steps you can take today to lower your risk for stroke, known at Life’s Simple 7: manage blood pressure, control cholesterol, reduce blood sugar, get active, eat better, maintain a healthy weight and stop smoking.
You can learn more about the warning signs of stroke and heart disease in women and how together, we can prevent these diseases, at the American Heart Association Southern New Jersey Go Red For Women Luncheon where King will share her story with nearly 300 attendees. The event, a premier women’s event focused on cardiovascular health and wellness, will take place on Friday, April 27, 2018 at The Mansion on Main Street in Voorhees, NJ. For tickets, sponsorship or volunteer information, visit SouthernNJGoRedLuncheon.heart.org or call 609.223.3708.