STROKE AWARENESS DAY: Free carotid and electrocardiogram screenings will be held from 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 5, in Fonseca Auditorium at West Jefferson Medical Center, 1101 Medical Center Blvd., Marrero.

EKG screening times will be from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and carotid screenings will be from 8:30 a.m. to noon. To make a reservation, call (504) 349-1789 or visit www.wjmc.org/stroke.

Stroke Awareness Day events also will include a discussion of stroke symptoms and treatments by Dr. Robert C. Dawson III at noon.

In addition, West Jefferson Medical Center will offer free, personalized stroke risk assessments, stroke empathy activities, education on strokes, activities/games, door prizes and free cholesterol, glucose, blood pressure and body mass index screenings.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the United States and the leading cause of disability. The goal during Stroke Awareness Month is to teach the public signs, symptoms and prevention measures that they will remember.

A stroke is an “attack on the brain” caused by a disruption in blood flow. There are two main types of stroke. One type occurs when blood flow is blocked, and the other type occurs when blood is leaking on the brain because of a ruptured blood vessel.

About 795,000 strokes occur each year. Learning how to identify the signs and symptoms of a stroke can not only save lives, it can also reduce stroke damage.

BE FAST is an acronym used to remember the main signs of a stroke.

The acronym stands for balance; eyesight; facial weakness or drooping; arm numbness or weakness; slurred speech; and time. If a sudden change in balance, eyesight, facial/arm movement or speech is noticeable, call 911. Time lost is brain cells lost. Asking a person to walk in a straight line, to hold both arms even or to smile will aid in identifying the signs.

GRIEF AND LOSS SUPPORT GROUP: A free grief and loss support group sponsored by the Akula Foundation meets from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the first and third Wednesdays of each month at West Jefferson Medical Center, 1101 Medical Center Blvd., Marrero. The next meeting will be May 6. To register or for information, call the Grief Resource Center at (504) 247-7818.