WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — May is National Stroke Awareness Month. Strokes are the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. They can affect anyone.

One Wichita-area stroke survivor thought he was way too young to suffer a stroke.

“I just woke up on the floor and thought maybe I blacked out,” Bill Ramsey said. “I was 28 years old. And I had the second one when I was 33 years old. The second time that I had one, I was completely blind.”

He waited two days before going to the doctor.

“He told me he thought I’d had a stroke, and I was like, “Doc, I’m 33 years old. I didn’t have a stroke.” And sure enough, it turns out that I did,” Ramsey said.

Quick action is a critical factor in recovery.

“The more time that a stroke patient does not receive care in a hospital, it’s more damage that’s being done to them,” Heather Smart, American Heart Association, said. “And so we want people to be able to act quickly, whether that’s calling 911, getting someone to the emergency room as quickly as you can.”

Even though it happened years ago, Ramsey still has side effects from the strokes.

“About a year of battling short-term memory loss, struggles to have conversations with people where I would lose my place. I’ve lost a lot of feeling on the left side. My face droops when I get tired,” Ramsey said. “I call them acceptable losses because it could have been so much worse.”

His experience is a reminder that it could happen to anyone.

“It’s not about your age. It’s not about your health,” he said. “There’s all kinds of things that can cause it, and you need to understand what those signs are so that you can help somebody.”

Ramsey said he is proof that having a stroke does not have to mean your life is over.

“You can recover from this and have a wonderful life,” he said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, someone in the U.S. has a stroke every 40 seconds. That is almost 800,000 people a year.

Nearly one in four strokes are in people who had one before.

The American Heart Association says to think F.A.S.T.

  • F = Face Drooping — Does one side of the face droop, or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?
  • A = Arm Weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = Speech Difficulty — Is speech slurred?
  • T = Time to call 911