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Know the Signs of a Stroke and BE FAST

Hospital news | Monday, May 21, 2018

Prairie du Chien, WI - May is National Stroke Awareness Month, an observance that highlights the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke. The Centers for Disease Control reports that stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and a leading cause of severe disability. In the United States, one person dies from stroke approximately every 4 minutes.

“Strokes are preventable and largely treatable,” shares Dr. Walter Downey, Clinic Medical Director and Family Medicine Physician at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic. “Being aware of the warning signs and taking action to reduce risk, along with living a healthy lifestyle and properly managing necessary medications can lower an individual’s risk of a stroke.”

The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program encourages individuals to know the signs of a stroke and remember BE FAST:

  • BALANCE: Sudden loss of coordination or balance
  • EYES: Sudden change in vision
  • FACE: Sudden weakness on one side of the face or facial droop
  • ARM: Sudden arm or leg weakness or numbness
  • SPEECH: Sudden slurred speech, trouble speaking, trouble understanding speech
  • TERRIBLE HEADACHE: Sudden onset of a terrible headache

“Choosing healthy meal and snack options, maintaining a healthy weight, and regular physical activity are lifestyle choices that will help prevent a stroke,” continues Downey. “If you have heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, or diabetes, there are steps you can take to lower your risk for stroke. Our team of providers at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic can work with you to prevent or treat medical conditions that can lead to stroke.”

Dr. Downey joins a team of board-certified providers at Crossing Rivers Health Clinic including Holly Griswold, DNP; Sue McMillan, APNP; Terri Payne, APNP, CNM; Sara Rybarczyk, MD; and Owen Vincent, DO. Appointments can be made by calling 608.357.2500 or appointment requests can be completed online at