The Warning Signs of a Stroke

By Michael Galvan | 04/14/2016

Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the United States.1 A summary of studies revealed that many people with self-reported risk factors were actually unaware of the warning signs of a stroke.2

Every hour that a stroke goes untreated is equal to nearly 3.6 years of aging in the brain.3 If you think that you or another person might be having a stroke, it’s crucial to act quickly. Immediate treatment is the best way to protect the brain and increase a patient’s chance at survival.

A stroke occurs when the flow of blood to the brain is disrupted. Arteries that carry blood to the brain can become blocked or rupture. This disruption in the blood supply rapidly starts to deprive brain cells of oxygen. The neurons quickly begin to die off in huge numbers. Almost two million brain cells die each minute that a stroke goes untreated.4

The National Institute of Neurological Disorder and Stroke (NINDS) lists the following as identifiable symptoms of stroke.

  • sudden confusion; often manifests as trouble understanding speech or talking
  • a sudden severe headache
  • sudden vision complications in one or both eyes
  • sudden difficulty walking; loss of balance and dizziness are common
  • sudden numbness; in the extremities, face, or part of the body5

As a general rule, the most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within the first three hours after onset.6 An easy way to spot and help potential stroke victims is to remember the acronym F.A.S.T.

F: Face Droop

Strokes affect the ability of people to control their facial muscles.  Ask the person to smile, does one side of their face droop?

A: Arm Weakness

After a stroke, the patient’s arms will often become weak or numb. If you ask the person to lift both arms, does one of them begin to drift down?

S: Speech Difficulty

This is one of the most noticeable signs of stroke. Does the person possibly having a stroke have slurred speech or sound strange?

T: Time to call 911

If you observe any of these symptoms call 911 immediately.

Every year, more than 128,000 people in the United States die from strokes, making it the fifth leading cause of death.7   Hundreds of thousands of other patients will face years of physical therapy and possible life-long disability. There have been advances in the treatment of strokes, but they generally require early action. Review F.A.S.T. and help spread awareness. When it comes to helping people who are having a stroke, every minute counts.

If you think you may have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately. 

The information in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  Always consult a qualified health care provider about any medical condition or issues.

 

References:

  1. http://www.stroke.org/understand-stroke/what-stroke
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1993942/
  3. http://stroke.ahajournals.org/content/37/1/263.full
  4. ibid
  5. http://stroke.nih.gov/about/index.htm
  6. http://www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm
  7. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/leading-causes-of-death.htm