Strokes occur when the healthy flow of blood to a given area of the brain becomes disrupted, due to either a blood clot or a broken blood vessel. Strokes cause damage to brain cells that govern certain functions, such as speech and movement. Brain damage and physical or neurological impairment resulting from a stroke vary in severity and how long they last.
While medications and procedures can reduce the long-term impact caused by a stroke, the success of these methods depends on how quickly the stroke sufferer receives care.
Common symptoms of stroke include:
- Numbness or weakness in the limbs, especially that when it occurs only on one side of the body only.
- Difficulty speaking or understanding what others are saying.
- Sudden confusion or disorientation.
- Coordination problems, including difficulty walking or maintaining balance.
- Severe headache.
FAST Ways to Spot a Stroke
Stroke symptoms occur suddenly and without a gradual buildup of symptoms. The American Stroke Association, an affiliate of the American Heart Association, has created an easy way to help members of the public recognize when someone is suffering from a stroke, called “Spot a Stroke FAST”:
F – Face Drooping
Specifically, a person suffering from a stroke may experience paralysis on one side of the face, giving it a drooped appearance. Ask the person to smile. If the smile looks lopsided, the person may be suffering from a stroke.
A – Arm Weakness
Ask the person to raise their arms and, if they are unable to lift an arm or one arm keeps drifting downward, they may be suffering from a stroke.
S – Speech Difficulty
Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase like “The grass is green.” If the sentence sounds slurred or the person has difficulty repeating it, they may be suffering from a stroke.
T – Time to Call 9-1-1
If the person you’re with has any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately (even if the symptoms seem to go away). The success of stroke medications and procedures depends on quick treatment.
To learn more about the health risks and warning signs associated with stroke, please visit the American Stroke Association website.
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