Stroke - Know the Signs and Act Fast

If a stroke is recognized and treatment begins within 60 minutes of onset, disability from the stroke is largely preventable. It is important for everyone to know the signs of a stroke and to act fast to help reduce the permanent damage from a stroke.

First, let’s understand what a stroke is and why it can result in disability. Often referred to as a “brain attack”, a stroke is a sudden interruption of blood to the brain. When blood is cut off from the brain, brain cells immediately impacted by the lack of blood will begin to die when the oxygen and nutrients from the blood they need is not present. A stroke can either be caused by a blood clot that plugs the blood vessels in the brain or when blood vessels in the brain break and bleed into the brain. An estimated 80 percent of strokes are caused by a blood clot.

The Signs of Stroke

To someone witnessing a stroke occurring, the person may appear to be disoriented or confused. To the person experiencing the stroke, the following symptoms may occur suddenly:

Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
Severe headache with no known cause

Act Fast

If you witness someone having a stroke, call 911 immediately or take them to the nearest emergency room.  Every minute counts when it comes to a stroke. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Also, a good tip is to take a picture or video of the person and show to medical personnel as soon as you arrive at the emergency room.

If you feel you are experiencing the symptoms of a stroke, try to ask someone to call 911 for you or call yourself. As most strokes result from a blood clot, if you seek treatment quickly, medication can be administered that will help dissolve the blood clot and get blood flowing to the brain again. Studies have found stroke patients who receive a drug called t-PA within three hours of the onset of a stroke are at least 30 percent likely to recover with no disabilities or permanent injury after three months.

Stroke does not have to be Your Destiny

There are ways to help prevent a stroke including controlling high blood pressure and high cholesterol, reducing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, as well as being a non-smoker.