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Know the Warning Signs & Act Quickly

Strokes are serious medical events and require prompt diagnosis and treatment. Knowing your risk factors and learning how to identify a stroke can save a life. The effects of a stroke can be long-lasting or permanent, so it’s crucial to know the warning signs to treat them. Although stroke is a brain disease, it can affect the entire body as well as the mind, as strokes may cause permanent impairment of thinking, awareness, attention, learning, judgement, or memory.

You can identify a stroke by using the “FAST” system:

  • FACE: Is the face drooping? When you ask the person to smile, is the smile lopsided?
  • ARM: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to lift both arms at the same time and check if one drifts downward.
  • SPEECH: Is the speech slurred? Can the person repeat a simple sentence like “the sky is blue” when asked?
  • TIME: If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s time to call 911 immediately, even if the symptoms go away. Do not drive someone to the hospital or drive yourself. Life-saving care may be administered in the ambulance on the way to the emergency room.

Other possible signs of a stroke include blurry vision, a sudden sharp headache, memory loss, and fatigue. Unlike heart attacks, strokes may not cause any pain.

What Is a Stroke?

A stroke, also called a brain attack, occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted. This emergency medical event requires prompt diagnosis and treatment to prevent permanent brain damage. Every minute counts once a person has suffered a stroke because brain cells die within a few minutes of oxygen and blood deprivation. Once brain cells die, the functions they used to carry out are lost, meaning the person is unable to do things controlled by that part of the brain.

There are 2 main stroke types, ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes result from blockage of a blood vessel in the brain, and hemorrhagic strokes are caused by bleeding in the brain. There are multiple subtypes of strokes, and there are also transient ischemic attacks, sometimes called “mini-strokes.”

Stroke Treatment

Generally, patients have 3 treatment stages: prevention, emergency medical treatment, and post-stroke rehabilitation. Stroke therapy may include dissolving a blood clot or by stopping the bleeding from a hemorrhagic stroke. Post-stroke rehabilitation involves helping patients overcome any disabilities resulting from stroke damage. Medication may be prescribed to treat strokes and prevent another stroke from happening.