75% of Americans under age 45 don't know the signs of a stroke.

75% of Americans under age 45 don't know the signs of a stroke.

Learn why identifying symptoms and acting FAST may save your life.

A recent national survey commissioned by Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center revealed the startling findings that 75 percent of respondents under age 45 are unaware of, or underestimate, the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

Many said if they experienced weakness, numbness, difficulty seeing or speaking, they would wait out the symptoms or delay treatment.  However, these are common symptoms of an interruption of the brain's blood flow, a.k.a. stroke, and each minute without treatment increases the risk of permanent damage or death.

Why seconds count

"The key to stroke survival is immediate medical care," said Joshua Morrison, MD, a Monroe Clinic neurologist.  "The first three hours of symptom onset are the golden window when treatment is most likely to limit, or even reverse, damage."

Even younger adults should be aware of stroke symptoms.  It may help them save the life of a loved one, and studies show stroke occurrence in the "under 45" age group, though less common, is on the rise.

Women may have different symptoms

According to the National Stroke Association, women may occasionally present with different symptoms, making them even more challenging to identify and seek treatment. Women's symptoms may include, but are not limited to:

•             Loss of consciousness or fainting
•             General weakness
•             Difficulty or shortness of breath
•             Confusion, unresponsiveness or disorientation
•             Sudden behavioral change
•             Agitation
•             Hallucination
•             Nausea or vomiting
•             Pain
•             Seizures

If you, or someone around you, are experiencing possible symptoms of stroke, don't ever take the wait-and-see approach.

"The message we want every person to remember is that when it comes to stroke symptoms, act FAST," said Morrison.

Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.