How Can You Tell if You’re Having a Stroke?

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A stroke can happen at any time. But would you be able to recognize the warning signs and symptoms? Strokes occur more commonly in people with diabetes, and high blood pressure. People who are obese, elderly, smoke and don’t eat a balanced diet are at a higher risk as well. It is not always easy to identify a stroke, and any lost time without medical attention can lead to irreplaceable effects on the brain.

Learn the F.A.S.T warning signs to identify a stroke and it could save you or someone you love from serious effects of brain damage.

F – Face Dropping
Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person’s smile uneven?

A – Arm Weakness
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S – Speech Difficulty
Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

T – Time to call 9-1-1
If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

You could also experience these symptoms:

Numbness or weakness
Especially of the face, arm or leg. Because the brain controls different areas of the body, it is common to experience numbness or weakness on one side of the body and not the other.

Confusion
A stroke inhibits the brain from working properly and might cause confusion.

Vision disturbances
You may have trouble seeing out of one or both eyes. Vision may be blurred or impaired.

Loss of balance or coordination
You may feel dizzy and have trouble walking.

Severe headache
You may experience a severe headache with no direct cause.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

A stroke affects the brain in one of two ways, by hemorrhage (rupture of a blood vessel and the spilling of blood into brain tissue) or by a ischemia, (blocked blood vessel in the brain causing the brain not to get enough blood, oxygen and nutrients).. Both have the potential for irreversible brain damage if not treated immediately. When a stroke occurs and part of your brain dies from the lack of blood flow, the part of the body it controls is affected. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other serious health problems.

Another kind of stroke-like event is a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA), or a warning stroke. A TIA is caused by a blockage of a blood vessel to the brain, causing stroke symptoms, but the stroke symptoms are short lived. It is called transient because the stroke symptoms resolve and there is usually no lasting symptoms left over from this event. While people get back to normal, just having a TIA make a person at very high risk for a full blown stroke with lasting symptoms.

Learn more about the warning signs of a stroke and find more information on stroke prevention at heart.org and strokeassociation.org.

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