SUNY Hospital Physicians Offer Key Warning Signs for Strokes

March 6, 2019

Experts at SUNY’s Four Health Centers and Medical Schools Provide Vital Information on Prevention and Detection to Help New Yorkers at Risk

SUNY Researchers Working on Life-Saving Tools to help First Responders Treat Strokes and New Therapies to Prevent Recurrent Strokes

Over 122K Adult New Yorkers Experience a Stroke Every Year

Albany – Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson today urged State University of New York physicians across the state to relay vital information to New Yorkers on stroke prevention and resources available to bring awareness to the dangers of strokes. Key warning signs and symptoms are vital to getting immediate treatment and can help save lives.

"Stroke is a medical emergency that demands immediate medical treatment, and I’m glad to see SUNY physicians are calling attention to the warning signs of this potentially fatal disease,” said SUNY Chancellor Kristina M. Johnson. “As the recent high-profile death illustrates, stroke doesn’t just happen in the elderly. It can happen to anyone, so we all need to know how to spot a stroke and seek care as soon as possible."

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel to the brain is blocked by a clot or ruptures, depriving the brain of oxygen and nutrients it needs. When that happens, brain cells die. According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of disability, but 80 percent of strokes are preventable.

The key is recognizing the signs and symptoms and getting medical attention as soon as possible. Experts at SUNY recommend keeping in mind the acronym FAST:

  • Facial drooping – one side of the face droops or is numb. One side of the face is uneven or lopsided. 
  • Arm weakness on one side – one arm weak or numb and may drift downward.
  • Speech difficulties – speech is slurred, and person is unable to speak or understand speech.
  • Time to call 911 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Additional symptoms include numbness or tingling, especially in one arm or leg or on one side of the face, and sudden loss of vision or vertigo.

Although stroke is more common in the elderly, it can also occur in people who are much younger. According to a 2018 article in The New England Journal of Medicine, adults worldwide over the age of 25 have a 25 percent chance of stroke. In New York State, approximately 122,000 adults over age 18 experience a stroke each year, and more than 6,200 people die from stroke.

Certain people are at greater risk for stroke, including people who suffer from:

  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Sleep apnea
  • Smoking cigarettes
  • Family history of strokes

While not all risk factors are within a person’s control, making lifestyle changes such as eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and giving up cigarettes can lower your risk. Experts recommend seeing your primary care doctor regularly to address your medical risk factors.

If you believe that you or your loved one may be having a stroke, call emergency services immediately. Most strokes are best treated within a three-hour time period. Clot-busting drugs are also only effective for a limited window of time. Patients are advised to not take any medication while you waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

Researchers at SUNY hospitals continue to aggressively work on life-changing stroke research, including the development of non-invasive diagnostic tools that can be used by emergency first responders, drug trials for therapies to prevent recurrent stroke in patients with heart abnormalities, and the use of mobile apps to assist stroke patients and their caregivers. 

For more information about stroke, visit: the American Stroke Association website at; The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at; and The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention at

About SUNY Health Centers and Medical Schools

SUNY graduates the greatest number of health professionals in the state of New York Health, educating one of every three medical school graduates, one of every three nursing graduates, and one of every five dentists in the state. Additionally, SUNY’s four academic health centers, five hospitals, college of optometry, and a veterans’ nursing home serve more than 1.3 million patients yearly and produce groundbreaking innovative biomedical and health sciences research and discovery, helping to create the future of healthcare and medicine.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the country’s oldest school of maritime, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.4 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2023, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunities, visit

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Holly Liapis
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