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Stroke Information & Resource Guide
Article by ACLS Training Center.  Click Here for the Full Article.

12/8/17

A 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:

  • Face - Drooping of one side of the face. Ask the person to smile and note if it is uneven.
  • Arms - 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?
  • Speech - Difficulty in speech, is it slurred? Ask the person to repeat a phrase and note any changes in speech.
  • Time - 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 appear.

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 happen.

For more information Click Here for the Full Article

  • What is a Stroke?
  • Why Me? Causes of Stroke
  • I’m Having a Stroke! What Should I Do?
  • What to Expect When the Ambulance Arrives
  • What Treatments are Available for Stroke?

 

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