Save a life: Be alert for signs of stroke
Strokes happen when blood flow to your brain stops. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. There are two kinds of stroke, according to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.
Ischemic strokes, the most common type, occur when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. The other type, hemorrhagic stroke, is caused by a blood vessel that breaks and bleeds into the brain. "Mini-strokes" or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) occur when blood supply to the brain is briefly interrupted.
A stroke is a medical emergency, so it is important to call 9-1-1 immediately. NINDS notes that stroke symptoms can include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
Since the person having a stroke may not be aware of it, due to damage occurring, it is important for loved ones and bystanders to be alert for these signs as well. The National Stroke Association recommends the F.A.S.T. test: Face:
Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? Arms:
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to raise up?
Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange? Time:
If you observe symptoms, call 9-1-1. Don't wait. Every minute counts. Immediate treatment can save someone's life or reduce complications.
Strokes are a leading cause of adult disability. This can be temporary or permanent, depending on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part was affected.