Strokes are “brain attacks” which occur due to a disturbed blood circulation in some part of the brain. It is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the leading reason for adult handicap.
There are 2 major types of strokes: ischemic and hemorrhagic. Ischemic strokes are more common and are caused by a narrowing or blocking of arteries to the brain, resulting in severely reduced blood flow. Hemorrhagic strokes are less common and are caused by bleeding in the brain.
It is necessary to recognize the warning signs of a stroke and get medical assistance as quickly as possible to decrease the risk of serious damage to the brain. This can help reduce the risk of death or disability and improve your chances of recovery.
The type of stroke determines its symptoms, and they may vary in different people.
However, all warning signs happen suddenly, and some of the most common include:
- Trouble strolling, loss of balance or control
- Trouble talking, along with difficulties to understand speech
- Numbness in the arm, leg or face, particularly on one side
- Complete paralysis
- Vision problems in one or both eyes
- Sudden disappointment without a particular cause
To help identify the onset of stroke, you need to remember the following:
- Face: Ask the person to smile and check if one side of their face droops.
- Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms and check if either of their arms drifts downward.
- Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase and check if their speech is slurry or strange.
- Time: Every minute counts. If you observe even one of these signs, call an ambulance immediately. Moreover, some treatments for stroke work only if administered within 3 to 4 hours of the onset of symptoms.
Remember that stroke strikes quickly and also the signs and symptoms begin all of a sudden. So, if you have one or more indication of a stroke for more than a few minutes, don’t wait the signs to improve or intensify. Seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
Even if you experience these symptoms and they vanish after a few minutes, you should visit your doctor as those short episodes are known as transient ischemic assaults and may increase the risk of a full stroke soon.
Sometimes, people may confuse the symptoms of stroke and migraine, so this is how to differentiate them:
- The warning signs of strokes occur suddenly, while in the case of a migraine, the signs occur gradually and spread.
- Sometimes, the symptoms of a migraine are positive in the form of added stimuli, like viewing flashing lights or zigzag forms. In contrast, transient ischemic assaults normally start with unpleasant symptoms, like hearing loss, loss of vision, and loss of limb power.
Although a stroke can strike anyone at any time, these factors can increase your risk:
- Age 55 or older
- High blood pressure
- Other conditions like heart disease, atrial fibrillation and blood disorders
- Migraines with aura, or visual disturbances
- Family history
In order to prevent strokes, you need to avoid the risks and consume a healthy and balanced diet, high in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and regularly exercise in order to keep the body healthy.