What You Need To Know About Strokes
Stroke is a medical emergency and a leading cause of death in the U.S. It occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts or, more commonly, when a blockage develops. Without treatment, cells in the brain quickly begin to die. The result can be serious disability or death. If a loved one is having stroke symptoms, seek emergency medical attention without delay.
These factors increase your risk for stroke:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Getting too little exercise
- Heavy use of alcohol
Signs of a stroke may include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the body, especially on one side.
- Sudden vision changes in one or both eyes, or difficulty swallowing.
- Sudden, severe headache with unknown cause.
- Sudden problems with dizziness, walking, or balance.
- Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding others.
Call 911 immediately if you notice any of these symptoms.
The F.A.S.T. test helps spot symptoms of stroke. It stands for:
Face. Ask for a smile. Does one side droop?
Arms. When raised, does one side drift down?
Speech. Can the person repeat a simple sentence? Does he or she have trouble or slur words?
Time. Time is critical. Call 911 immediately if any symptoms are present.
Every second counts when seeking treatment for a stroke. When deprived of oxygen, brain cells begin dying within minutes. There are clot-busting drugs that can curb brain damage, but they need to be used within three hours — up to 4.5 hours in some people — of the initial stroke symptoms. Once brain tissue has died, the body parts controlled by that area won’t work properly. This is why stroke is a top cause of long-term disability.