stroke is a serious and sometimes life-threatening
condition. It is a leading cause of disability and the
fourth leading cause of death among Americans. Until
recently, if you were to experience a stroke, supportive
care was all that was available. But now, stroke
management has progressed to a point where a stroke can
be stopped in its path.
There are treatments
available that can prevent or limit disability caused by
a stroke as well as saving many lives. The success of
such treatments is dependent upon how much time has
passed since the stroke symptoms appeared. Therefore,
the early recognition of a stroke by the patient or
their family is of the utmost importance. This article
will attempt to give you the information you need to
recognize a stroke and respond accordingly.
Recognizing a Stroke by
Signs and Symptoms
Because the medical
management of stroke varies depending on the length of
time since symptoms first appeared, and due to the fact
that this will affect prognosis, a prompt recognition of
a stroke is extremely important.
Keep in mind that stroke
symptoms usually start quite suddenly and get worse over
time. You may be sitting at a table and suddenly be
unable to hold your coffee cup or get your words out
correctly. Signs and symptoms of stroke include sudden
onset of weakness on one side of the body and slurred
speech or dysarthria, meaning, the inability to make
your words come out right. A sudden change in the way
you walk or feeling that one leg is not “acting right”
can be a sign of stroke. Some patients also notice
changes in their ability to see. Loss of balance is
another common sign of stroke. Patients who have
bleeding around their brain may complain that “they have
the worst headache of their life”.
A useful acronym to
recognize and respond to stroke is FAST:
- Drooping of one side of the face. Ask the person to
smile and note if it is uneven.
- Weakness or numbness in one arm. Ask the person to
lift both arms. Does one extremity drift downward or
is the person unable to lift it?
- Difficulty in speech, is it slurred? Ask the person
to repeat a phrase and note any changes in speech.
- If any of these symptoms are present, it’s time to
call 911 immediately. Also, take note of the time
since symptoms onset, which will be required by
doctors to decide on appropriate treatment.
In the case of an
hemorrhagic stroke the symptoms appear in a more abrupt
way and varies from the ischemic one, the headache is
the first thing to appear, it consists on a very severe
pain which makes the patient feel like “his head is
gonna explode”, then the rest of the symptoms start to
Nausea and vomiting are
common along with dizziness and a very stiff neck and
are accompanied by confusion and even seizures, this set
of symptoms are called “meningeal syndrome” due to the
inflammation of the meninges (a set of membranes that
cover the brain and spinal chord), thanks to a severe
and sudden hemorrhage in the brain.
It is important to
remember though, that the only and best way to ascertain
the type of stroke along with the adequate treatment for
it, is through imaging studies, for example, a CT scan
or an MRI, this last one uses magnets and radio waves in
order to create pictures of the organs and structures of
the body. This test can detect changes or damage to the
brain tissue. All of this is done in the confines of a
medical center, so it’s important to take note that we
have to act fast in order for the adequate treatment to
For more information
Click Here for the Full Article
is a Stroke?
Why Me? Causes of
I’m Having a Stroke!
What Should I Do?
What to Expect When
the Ambulance Arrives
What Treatments are
Available for Stroke?