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Could It Be a Stroke? Know the Signs and Act Fast

A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain stops or when a blood vessel bursts. When the brain doesn’t have oxygen, brain cells die, resulting in disability or death.


A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain stops or when a blood vessel bursts. When the brain doesn’t have oxygen, brain cells die, resulting in disability or death. The consequences can range from mild to severe depending on the size and location of the stroke. According to the CDC, a person in the United States suffers a stroke every 40 seconds.

Sudden signs of a stroke

  1. Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg on one side of the body
  2. Confusion, trouble speaking or difficulty understanding speech
  3. Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  4. Difficulty with walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  5. Severe headache with no known cause

Call 9-1-1- right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms! If you think someone may be having a stroke, it’s important to remember to act F.A.S.T:

  • F = FACE. Ask the individual to smile. Does one side of their face droop?
  • A = ARM. Ask the individual to raise both arms. Is one arm drifting down or appearing weak?
  • S = SPEECH. Ask the individual to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or confused?
  • T = TIME. Note what time the stroke symptoms first appeared.

Timely treatment can lower the risk of disability and death from a stroke. According to the CDC, patients who arrive to the hospital within 3 hours of their first symptoms often have less disability 3 months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.

There are several treatment options for stroke. The recommended treatment depends on the cause of the stroke

  • Tissue Plasminogen Activator (TPA) – a drug that treats acute ischemic stroke and works to dissolve any clots and help regain blood flow to the brain. It helps reduce the risk of longer lasting residual effects from a stroke. There is only a short window of time that this powerful drug can be administered.
  • Some strokes are treated with a mechanical device that removes or breaks up the blood clot
  • Other options can include controlling high blood pressure and surgery

With any treatment, time is crucial when a stroke is suspected. Every minute counts. You, and those surrounding you, should take quick action.

Understand your risk for having a stroke. Certain things can increase your chances of having a stroke:

  • Family history of stroke
  • Sex (more common in women than men)
  • Race or ethnicity (Blacks, Hispanics, American Indians, and Alaska Natives may be more likely to have a stroke than non-Hispanic whites or Asians)
  • Age (the older you are, the more likely you are to have a stroke)
  • Unhealthy diet
  • Physical inactivity
  • Obesity
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Smoking
  • Previous stroke or a transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Sickle cell disease

 

Stroke prevention. You can help prevent a stroke by:

  • Making healthy lifestyle choices like eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly and quitting smoking

Also, reducing high blood pressure, controlling cholesterol, controlling diabetes, taking aspirin, limiting salt intake, reducing alcohol consumption, losing weight, getting tested/treated for A-fib (data source)