Learn To Recognize A Stroke Fast
Every 4 minutes, someone dies from a stroke, yet only 38% of people know how to recognize one — learn to act and save a life
If you or one of your loved ones suffers from a stroke, recognizing it quickly can mean the difference between life and death. Another consequence of too late treatment can mean lifelong disability.
In order to protect those you love, it is essential that you learn to understand the warning signs of a stroke in progress.
People who suffer a stroke may experience impaired vision and a loss of orientation. It is therefore crucial that you know what you will experience if you suffer a stroke, in case you need immediate help.
If untreated within 3 hours, a stroke can cause irreparable damage to the brain. But if help arrives in time, there is a good prognosis of recovery.
So learn to act fast and prevent the worst.
How to recognize a stroke
A stroke shares the same symptoms for both women and men. Most of these symptoms are unilateral, meaning they mainly affect one side of the body. The symptoms include:
- Numbness, weakness, or loss of control over the limbs and face muscles
- Slurred speech, a drooping face
- Impaired vision in one or both eyes
- Severe headache without any reason or cause
- Confusion and problems understanding speech, impaired thinking
In order to have a better understanding of how these symptoms can appear, take a look at the following 2 videos:
Recognizing a stroke in progress — witness perspective
Recognizing a stroke in progress — Victim’s perspective
If you notice a situation like the one shown above, it is important that you act fast and call 911 or the local emergency number of the country you live in.
A good mnemonic to remember the symptoms of a stroke is the word FAST, which stands for
- F — Face: Is the face drooping on one side?
- A — Arms: Can the person lift both arms up? Is one arm numb?
- S — Speech: Does the person slur and speak differently than usual?
- T — Time: Call the emergency hotline ASAP and let them know of the stroke in progress
The quicker you react to these signs, the higher the chances of the victim making a full recovery. By the way, 1 out of 4 strokes happens to people who already suffered a stroke before. So if you know someone who suffered a stroke in the past, stay on high alert in case they suffer from a second one.
Transient Ischemic Attacks
Sometimes, a victim seems to recover by themself within minutes of the stroke. This “mini-stroke” is known as a Transient Ischemic Attack.
This is NOT a sign that they are out of danger. TIAs are often a sign of a more severe stroke about to happen soon in the future. Even if the person recovered, you should get them into a hospital right away and let the medical staff know about the TIA.
Do not let yourself get fooled into thinking that the worst is over if a stroke resolves itself as a TIA. There is still a possible blockage within the brain arteries that need to be cleared, either by blood thinners or surgery.
What are strokes exactly?
A stroke is an event that happens when arteries or veins in the brain get blocked. The blood cells can’t reach the brain to deliver oxygen, similar to what would happen if someone choked you. The brain then suffers from Cerebral Hypoxia, and several brain functions cease working correctly.
This is why patients lose control over their muscles, have slurred speech, and problems seeing and hearing clearly.
There are silent strokes that happen without any noticeable symptoms, but still, deprive the brain of important oxygen.
Who is at risk of suffering a stroke?
Generally, a stroke can happen to anyone, but studies show that people above the age of 65 have a substantially higher risk of suffering a stroke.
Other factors that increase the risk of suffering a stroke are high blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, high cholesterol, obesity, and smoking.
Since a stroke is the same thing as a heart attack (a blood cloth blocking an artery or vein), only that it happens within the brain, it is safe to say that everything that increases the risk of a heart attack also increases the risk of a stroke.
Stroke statistics from the CDC
Here are some quick facts about stroke published by the CDC.
- Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans, but the risk of having a stroke varies with race and ethnicity.
- The risk of having a first stroke is nearly twice as high for blacks as for whites,2 and blacks have the highest rate of death due to stroke.
- In 2009, 34% of people hospitalized for stroke were less than 65 years old.
- Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. Stroke reduces mobility in more than half of stroke survivors age 65 and over.
Act FAST, save a life
Most of us know what a stroke is, yet only a few really recognize the symptoms in time and can prevent further harm.
Without explicitly educating ourselves about it, most of us would never learn about it until at least one person in our family suffers from a stroke and medical teams explain to us what happened. If that person already suffered irreparable damage in that time, this means we were too late.
So I hope that this article raises awareness apart from the usual medical websites, which I’m sure most of us don’t visit that often.
May is national stroke awareness month, but we should not limit our raising awareness to a single time period. A stroke happens every 40 seconds.
Stay safe, everyone.