What is a Stroke?
A stroke is a very serious, life-threatening event that can cause permanent
damage to your brain and bodily functions. You may hear this referred to as a “brain attack” because of its similarities to a heart attack. In both life-threatening events, an artery that is carrying oxygenated blood from your heart is clotted or blocked. In a stroke, the blood clot occurs in an artery that supplies blood to your brain.
How do I recognize a stroke?
When determining whether you or someone else is having a stroke, think about the acronym F.A.S.T.
If you notice that one side of your face becomes numb, weak or droopy, you are probably having a stroke. Loss of movement in the affected area is also a positive sign of a brain attack. For example, when eating, if one side of your mouth stops moving, this is a good sign that you are having a stroke.
Similar to the face, one of your arms may become immobile or slightly impaired. If you begin with your arms at your side and lift them upwards and outwards in front of you, one will be lower and move slower compared to the other. It is not uncommon for one arm to have zero mobility.
Strokes affect one’s ability to speak with proper articulation. Your speech may be slower, slurred or quieter than normal. You may begin speaking about topics or ideas you typically would not speak about. Another sign is the comprehension, or lack thereof, other people’s statements. For example, understanding a simple direction like stand up, may not register with someone who is having a stroke.
As soon as you notice the above mentioned symptoms, you have little time to waste before reacting. The first thing you should do is look at a clock or press start on your stop watch. It is important for EMS to know how long the stroke has been occurring. Immediately after getting the time, call 911. This is a life-threatening event and you need help right away.
Besides impairments with face and arm mobility and effected speech, are there any other signs or symptoms that I should be aware of?
Yes. Often, very painful headaches, trouble seeing clearly and a feeling of being unbalanced are also paired with the above mentioned symptoms.
What are the side effects that a stroke survivor can expect?
Because blood flow to the brain was cut off, permanent damage can occur. The entire symptoms mentioned above (face, arm, speech, balance, vision etc.) can last for a lifetime.