SAN ANTONIO — Thanks to medical advancements, the death rate from those suffering a stroke in the U.S. has gone down, except for those in the Hispanic population.

Strokes kill about 140,000 Americans each year. That's one out of every 20 deaths. However, 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke each year, which means someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds.

Dr. Mateja de Leonni Stanonik, a University Health System neurologist and UT Health fellow says recognizing the signs of a stroke is imperative."FAST is a quick and easy scale to identify the most common presenting symptoms of stroke," she said.

With FAST, the "F" stands for face."When somebody has acute onset, meaning that it happens all of a sudden, you can see facial asymmetry," Dr. Stanonik said.

The "A" stands for arm. "If you see an arm that is weak or drooping then we are very concerned about stroke," said Dr. Stanonik.

The "S" stands for speech. "Where somebody is not speaking or having difficulty getting words out," she said.

The T stands for time. Acting quickly is critical. Dr. Stanonik said, "There is a well-known statistic out there that every minute, two million brain cells die if somebody is having a stroke and we do not intervene."

The most common risk factors for a stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, elevated fats and cholesterol in the blood, smoking, and family history. "Unfortunately, one cannot really change your genetics, so in those cases we definitely implement a cholesterol type of medication for people to keep their lipids down," said Dr. Stanonik.

So know your risks and know the signs so you can keep your chance of having a life-ending stroke down. Dr. Stanonik added, "The sooner we can intervene, usually the better the outcome of the patient."

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