What are the warning signs of stroke?


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A stroke occurs all of a sudden when the blood supply to an area of the brain is blocked or cut off. The causes can be many, including high blood pressure, hypertension, smoking, diabetes, body weight and certain medicines can raise your chances of stroke, example blood-thinning drugs, birth control pills, etc. While it is true that a stroke may happen to anyone, the chances of it are more as you get older. Strokes can also run in families and women are slightly less likely to have a stroke than men of the same age. So how do we know someone is having a stroke?

The symptoms mostly depend upon the region of the brain that is affected and can include changes in sensation or motor control.  Individuals who had a mild stroke may experience temporary inability to move an arm or leg, but in case of a more severe case an individual may have one side of their body permanently paralysed or be unable to speak. If the blood supply is not quickly restored, either on its own or via medical treatment, the effects may even be permanent.

Acting fast is critical if you are suspecting that you or someone next to you may be having a stroke. When you act immediately, you may be able to  minimise the long-term effects of the stroke and can even prevent it from being fatal.

FAST is an acronym that you must remember in order to quickly recognise the warning signs of a stroke. Here’s what it stands for

F: Face drooping. You may notice that the face is not looking normal all of a sudden. In this case you must ask the person to smile, and see if one side is drooping. It is possible that one side of the face is numb and the smile appears to be uneven.

A: A weakness in the arm is a common sign of stroke. You must check if a person is able to raise both arms or is experiencing some kind of weakness or numbness on one side. One arm drifting downward is an early sign of stroke.

S: Speech difficulty is another possibility when a person is having a stroke. People may slur their speech or have trouble speaking at all. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and look for any speech abnormality.

T: Time to call for help! If a person shows any of the symptoms above, call the doctor or the ambulance and get the person to a hospital immediately.

Signs and symptoms of stroke in men and women

While these are some common signs of stroke, a stroke can cause disruption in the function of your nervous system. The signs and symptoms of stroke typically affect one side of the body. If it is a (transient ischemic attack) TIA or a mini-stroke, the symptoms appear and may go away on their own. However, medical care is needed.

Other possible signs of stroke include:

  1. A paralysis of any part of the body
  2. A numbness or a "pins and needles" sensation in the body
  3. Gait disturbances, trouble walking or loss of balance and coordination
  4. Blurry vision or trouble with eyesight in one or both eyes
  5. Dizziness
  6. Acute headache
  7. Confusion
  8. Inability to speak, slurred speech, or inability to understand speech
  9. Loss of sensation in any part of the body
  10. Memory loss
  11. Behavioral changes
  12. Muscle stiffness
  13. Difficulty in swallowing
  14. Involuntary eye movements

Every year, several people around the world suffer from a stroke. They can happen to anyone at any point of time. If you identify the signs quickly and stay prepared, it can make a big difference. Learn the warning signs and teach them to others. If you have any medical conditions, schedule regular health checkups, maintain a healthy lifestyle and most importantly stay aware.