Newswise — MAYWOOD, IL –  In recognition of National Stroke Awareness Month in May, Loyola Medicine physicians are raising awareness of stroke signs and symptoms and educating the public on how to prevent strokes.

“Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of long-term disability,” said José Biller, MD, chair of Loyola’s Department of Neurology and an internationally known stroke specialist. “Stroke can happen to anyone at any age.”

A stroke is a brain attack that occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or a blood vessel breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. Brain cells begin to die.

Dr. Biller said it’s critically important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and to call 911 right away. Major symptoms include face drooping, arm weakness and speech difficulty.

“Time is brain,” Dr. Biller said. “Prompt treatment potentially can reduce stroke damage significantly.”

Dr. Biller said people can significantly reduce their risk of stroke by controlling risk factors including tobacco and alcohol use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, transient ischemic attacks (mini strokes), diabetes, obesity, sedentary lifestyle and heart conditions such as atrial fibrillation.

Throughout May, public service announcements with important-to-know facts about stroke will run frequently on Loyola’s social media channels.