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Be mindful of stroke warning signs this summer vacation

BY: Community Papers of WNY Staff | July 17, 2013

With school out, it’s time to enjoy a well-deserved summer vacation but whether you travel this season or stay local, the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, wants you to be prepared in the event of a stroke or cardiac emergency. A stroke can happen to anyone at any time and at any age.

On average, every 40 seconds someone has a stroke and every four minutes someone dies of a stroke. “Together to End Stroke,” nationally sponsored by Covidien, is the American Stroke Association’s national initiative to bring awareness that stoke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. Stressing the importance of reducing risk while knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, the association is determined to reach their goal of building healthier lives by reducing disability and death from stroke by 20 percent by 2020.

When it comes to knowing the stroke warning signs, only about two out of three Americans can correctly identify at least one sign. “Together to End Stroke” is helping Americans more easily recognize the stroke warning signs that some on suddenly through a quick and easy acronym called F.A.S.T.

F.A.S.T. is a simple way to remember some of the warning signs of a stroke and the importance of getting medical help immediately. F is for face drooping, A for arm weakness, S for speech difficulty and T for time to call 9-1-1.

“It is important that you are aware of your physical location and address when traveling in the event that you need to call 9-1-1 with a cell phone,” says neurologist Dr. Peterkin Lee-Kwen, medical director of the Stroke Center at Mercy Hospital of Buffalo. “Note the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared. In a stroke, time lost is brain lost.”

To find the nearest stroke specialty hospital in your vacation area, download the free F.A.S.T. mobile app (available on both iPhone and Android) or visit the American Stroke Association’s “Stroke Care Near You” at and enter the zip code to where you are traveling. Because traveling can take its toll on everyone, the American Heart Association has some tips to keep healthy on your vacation.

1. Pack healthy snacks for traveling like apples, grapes, raisins, whole grain fiber-rich crackers or another favorite low fat, low sodium snack to have on hand.

2. Keep daily physical activity in your vacation routine. Pack a football, soccer ball, Frisbee or paddle balls so that you can get your heart rate up in your downtime.

3. Reach for water instead of sports drinks, soda or juice to quench your thirst and avoid the unnecessary sugar and excess calories.

4. Know where the nearest emergency room/trauma center is located.

5. Ask if your hotel has an AED on site in the event of an emergency.

6. Be prepared to administer hands-only CPR in the event that an adult is unresponsive and in cardiac arrest by watching the one-minute video at

You can quickly and easily learn important lifesaving skills with CPR Anytime kits, available for purchase at

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