Every minute matters: Know the signs of a stroke
By Tanise Edwards, M.D.
When someone is having a stroke, time isn’t on your side — unless you act fast. How you react could be lifesaving. And, it may mean the difference between a successful recovery and a lasting disability for your loved one.
So, know what to look for — and what you should do.
Be alert to the sudden signs
A stroke occurs when the brain doesn’t get the oxygen-rich blood it needs. Most often, that’s because a blood clot has blocked a vessel. But, it can also happen when bleeding occurs in the brain.
There are two main kinds of stroke:
- 1. An ischemic stroke — the most common type — happens when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain. When caught as soon as possible after symptoms begin, it may be treatable with a drug that dissolves the blockage.
- 2. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain. In some cases, surgery may be needed to stop the bleeding.
Stroke symptoms come on suddenly — and can include:
- 1. Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg — on one side of the body
- 2. Dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination
- 3. Confusion, trouble speaking or trouble understanding speech
- 4. Trouble seeing — in one or both eyes
- 5. Severe headache with no known cause
It’s an emergency!
Why is getting help quickly so important? When the brain doesn’t get enough blood — or has a bleed — brain cells are damaged or die.
As a result, a person may have paralysis, vision loss, and difficulty thinking and speaking. Besides saving lives, fast treatment may prevent these problems from becoming permanent.
Someone having a stroke may not know it. So, it could be up to you to get help. Call 911 the moment you suspect a stroke — in yourself or others — even if the symptoms went away after a few minutes. This could be a warning sign of a more serious stroke to come. Play it safe — make the call.
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