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May is stroke awareness month

READ MORE: May is stroke awareness month
Every year, hundreds of thousands of Americans suffer a stroke. To help protect yourself, it is important to know the warning signs. May is National Stroke Awareness month, and Thursday WWAY spoke with a man who thought his change in behavior was just a sign of getting older, but he was wrong, and now he wants others to know what he had to learn the hard way. Stroke survivor, Edward Underhill said, "I fell asleep on the couch, and I fell down, and I attributed it to being asleep. Another time I got out of bed to go to the bathroom and I fell, and I attributed it again to being asleep." Those were his warning signs before the last fall that changed his life. "I went into the bathroom and just collapsed," said Underhill. He had a stroke -- a blood clot in his brain. "My left side was paralyzed -- my left side, leg and arm, but it's coming back, very slowly but it's coming back," said Underhill. Medical professionals say his story is all too common. Physicians assistant, Margaret Jazayeri said, "A lot of patients tend to ignore what's wrong with them and think that everything is OK, because they don't want to get a diagnosis of what they probably know already is going on with them." Signs of a stroke include not thinking clearly, decreased consciousness, slurred speech, drooling out of one side of the mouth, severe headache, weakness or numbness on one side of the body, or loss of balance. If you have any of these signs, call 911, and tell your doctor, friends and family if they are near you. Speaking up is something Edward wishes he would have done. "I had a physical like two weeks before I had the stroke, but I didn't mention anything about falling down. Had I done that, possibly it would have been a different end result," said Underhill. "There are treatments if done in early enough time that can actually reverse the signs and symptoms of stroke, or reverse the complications of stroke," said Jazayeri. For Edward, it's too late for preventative measures, but he is doing all he can to overcome the effects of his stroke. "Little things like I can move my finger, which I couldn't do before. And my toes, and I'm actually getting up with a cane and doing some walking," said Underhill. Doctors say to prevent a stroke, eat a healthy low fat diet, exercise everyday and tell your doctor if there is any change in your health or behavior.

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