We all should know how to recognize a stroke when we see the signs. The earlier a stroke victim receives treatment, the better the chances for more complete recovery.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke happens when the blood supply to an area of the brain is cut off. The symptoms vary depending on which region of the brain is affected by the loss of blood supply.
Someone who has had a mild stroke may experience temporary weakness of an arm or leg. Someone with a more severe stroke may be permanently paralyzed on one side of their body or be unable to speak. The longer the blood supply is cut off, the more likely it is that the effects may be permanent.
A TIA (transient ischemic attack) is sometimes referred to as a “mini-stroke and the stroke symptoms often go away on their own without medical treatment.
Recognizing Stroke Symptoms and Signs – FAST
Again, it is critical to act fast if you think someone may be having a stroke. Fast response and immediate treatment is essential in minimizing long-term effects and can help reduce a person's risk of death from the stroke.
FAST is an acronym used to remember and recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke.
Fast Stroke Symptoms and Signs to Look For
- F – Face drooping. Ask the person to smile and see if one side of their face is drooping. They may experience numbness on one side. Their smile may appear uneven.
- A – Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. One arm drifting downward is a sign of one-sided arm weakness.
- S – Speech difficulty. They may slur their speech or have difficulty speaking at all. Ask them to repeat a simple sentence and listen for any speech abnormality.
- T – Time to call 9-1-1! If they show any of the symptoms above (even if the symptoms resolve/go away) call 9-1-1 and get them to a hospital immediately.
Other Signs and Symptoms
Symptoms usually occur on one side of the body and come on suddenly. Symptoms may resolve on their own as with a TIA/mini-stroke, but it is imperative to get the person to a hospital as soon as possible to receive prompt treatment and hopefully avoid permanent damage.
Other possible signs include sudden onset of:
- Weakness or paralysis of any part of the body
- Numbness or “pins and needles” feeling anywhere in the body
- Trouble walking or loss of balance and coordination
- Vision changes (blurred vision or trouble with eyesight) in one or both eyes
- Severe headache unlike headaches experienced in the past
- Difficulty speaking, slurred speech or inability to understand speech
- Loss of sensation in any part of the body
- Memory loss
- Behavioral changes
- Muscle stiffness
- Difficulty swallowing
- Erratic eye movements
More than 7 million Americans have suffered and survived a stroke. The most important goal after a stroke is preventing another one. You can reduce your stroke risks by developing healthy habits. Rehabilitation is a critical part of recovery for stroke survivors. Stroke rehabilitation often requires healthcare professionals from several disciplines because a stroke can affect many functions: paralysis and weakness, gross and fine motor skills; speech and language; cognition; vision; and emotions. Rehab dollars should be used wisely, and at an inpatient rehabilitation facility if possible. It's important to know what types of services are likely to improve the outcome, so ask your doctor before you make plans to leave the hospital. Find out what types of rehab care insurance will cover and get the medical team involved in after-discharge care planning.
Having a stroke may mean changing, relearning or altering the way you live. Stroke can make a person forgetful, careless, irritable or confused. They may also experience anxiety, anger or depression.
Continued medical monitoring and treatment will be required to continue improvement to the best possible point and prevent another stroke.
Remember … acting FAST will reduce the permanent damage and possibly death.
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