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In Indiana, “FAST” and the month of May go hand in hand. But did you know that remembering “F.A.S.T.” could also help save someone’s life?

While IndyCars pursue new track records at the Speedway this month, the “FAST” I want you to remember are the signs of a stroke.

Stroke – when blood flow to the brain is blocked or interrupted – is the leading cause of long-term disability in the United States, creating devastating economic hardships on individuals as well as their employers. And unfortunately we’re seeing an increase in the number of strokes among younger individuals – i.e., your employees, co-workers and family members – as well as higher risks for Blacks and women.

Fortunately, up to 80 percent of strokes are preventable by taking the steps to manage the biggest risk factors. High blood pressure, smoking and diabetes are the leading preventable risk factors of stroke. Not surprisingly these same risk factors put us at risk for heart disease and other chronic conditions.

Another risk factor for stroke is stress. I know many of us have had more stress in our lives during the past 18 months than we used to. And it doesn’t seem to be letting up.

So what do we do about these risk factors? The answer is one you’ve probably heard before – eat better, move more and get more sleep. A healthy diet, physical activity and proper rest are the keys to living longer, healthier lives.

Even as we work to improve people’s health and reduce the number of people who have a stroke, 800,000 Americans will have a stroke this year – think of the Speedway filled to 3-4 times its capacity.

It’s for those people that we need to remember “F.A.S.T.”

F stands for face drooping. A is for arm weakness. S is for slurred speech, and T is for time to call 9-1-1.

If you see anyone with the sudden onset of any of those symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke is a medical emergency that often can be successfully treated within a brief window of time.

For more information about stroke as well as tips you, your employees, co-workers and loved ones can use to reduce risk factors, visit www.stroke.org.

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