A stroke is caused by either a blockage of a blood vessel or bleeding in or around the brain, which results in a lack of oxygen to the brain and the death of brain cells.
Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the US, and the leading cause of long term disability in the United States.
RECOGNIZE A STROKE
Learning to spot the signs of stroke can prevent or minimize disability. Just remember the acronym F.A.S.T.
F: Facial Droop
Ask the person to smile. Is their smile crooked?
A: Arm Weakness
Ask the person to lift their arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S: Slurred Speech
Ask the person to say a simple sentence. Are they able to say the words clearly?
If they have any of those symptoms, time to call 911 immediately. Every second counts!
PRINT OUT THE PICTURE BELOW AND KEEP IT IN A VISIBLE SPACE
OTHER WARNING SIGNS
It's important to act fast and seek medical attention if you notice a facial droop, arm weakness, or difficulty with speech, but there are other signs to be aware of including:
- numbness or weakness of a leg
- confusion or trouble understanding
- trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- severe headache with no known cause
DIFFERENCES IN GENDER
The above symptoms are the most common, but women can have different symptoms, such as:
- Loss of consciousness or fainting
- General weakness
- Difficulty or shortness of breath
- Confusion, unresponsiveness or disorientation
- Sudden behavioral change
- Nausea or vomiting
WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW THE EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF STROKE?
It's important to know the early warning signs and get medical attention as quick as possible. There are medications that can be given to break up a blood clot and minimize the lack of blood flow to the brain. These medications are effective if taken in the first 4 hours. Every second counts with a stroke.
If the medication is unable to break up the clot, a stent can be placed to allow blood flow to return to the brain. If the stroke is caused by a hemmorage, there are also several surgical options for treatment. The faster it can be addressed the less damage to the brain is seen.
RECURRENCE OF STROKE AND PREVENTION
Having a stroke puts you at further risk for future strokes. It's important to be aware of the early warning signs and to take active steps to preventing future strokes.
- STOP SMOKING
- TAKE YOUR MEDICATION AS DIRECTED BY YOUR PHYSICIAN
- STAY ACTIVE!
- EAT FOODS WITH LOW CHOLESTROL, TRANS, AND SATURATED FATS
- DRINK ALCOHOL IN MODERATION
Check out more information on preventing another stroke.
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Benjamin, E. J. et al. (2019) Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics—2019 Update: A Report From the American Heart Association. Circulation
Focht, K. L., Gogue, A. M., White, B. M., & Ellis, C. (2014). Gender differences in stroke recognition among stroke survivors. The Journal of Neuroscience Nursing : Journal of the American Association of Neuroscience Nurses, 46(1), 18-22; quiz 22, E1-2. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/JNN.0000000000000026
Think FAST to recall the warning signs of a stroke. (2014, 04). Harvard Health Publications.Harvard Heart Letter, Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/think-fast-to-recall-the-warning-signs-of-a-stroke