By Lynne Adkins

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — May is Stroke Awareness Month, and hospitals here in Philadelphia and across the country were holding screenings today so people understand the symptoms of stroke and know what to do should one occur.

Every 40 seconds someone in the US has a stroke, according to government statistics.  And that’s why officials at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital want the public to understand how to recognize one.

(Mary Bouchaud.  Photo by Lynne Adkins)

(Mary Bouchaud. Photo by Lynne Adkins)

Mary Bouchaud (right), Jefferson’s community clinical coordinator, says when thinking stroke, think FAST.

“F-A-S-T,” she explains.  “F is facial drooping, A is arm weakness, S is slurred speech, and T represents time.  Time is of the essence — you want to call 911 as soon as possible.”

She says the risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, lack of exercise, and having had a previous stroke.

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