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Arizona mom warns of signs during American Stroke Month

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Alex Gonzalez

(Arizona News Connection) May is National Stroke Month, and one young Arizona mom wants to share her experience to let Arizonans know stroke can happen to anyone and at any age. 

At the age of 32, Madison Bustamante gave birth to her first baby - and a few weeks later would experience her first stroke. 

According to the American Heart Association, about four million stroke survivors alive today are women, and Bustamante is one of them. 

The American Heart Association says "time lost is brain lost." 

PROMO Health - Family Silhouette Stethoscope - iStock - designer491

© iStock - designer491

Bustamante said she wants to encourage everyone to listen to their bodies and not be afraid to ask for help if you think you're experiencing a stroke or other heart complications.

"I was exhibiting a ton of the precursor symptoms that should have been noticed by medical professionals," said Bustamante, "or if I had even known what to look out for right after birth I might have been more educated."

To recognize the symptoms of a stroke, the American Heart Association wants everyone to remember the acronym FAST, or "fast." It stands for face drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911. 

Bustamante said there is a lack of information and awareness related to strokes, something she said she wants to help improve.

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© iStock - Sergey Tinyakov

After her first stroke, Bustamante went to rehab to regain her physical strength. 

She said once she was discharged, she said she wasn't given the appropriate medication which "ultimately led to another stroke," two days after leaving rehab. 

The American Heart Association says about one in four stroke survivors is at risk to experience another one. The group says fortunately up to 80 percent of second-clot related strokes may be preventable. 

Bustamante said she was one of the lucky ones.

"I feel like now it is my duty to pass it on, especially new moms," said Bustamante. "I mean, heart disease is the number one leading factor of maternal death. It's gone up 180 percent, I think, in the last nine years."

Bustamante said there is nothing wrong with acknowledging you don't feel well and need help. 

Today the American Heart Association is holding its 2023 Greater Phoenix "Go Red for Women" luncheon to empower women and their families to take action and fight against heart disease.