Strokes can happen to anyone, at any age, at any time. It is prudent to know the signs of a stroke and what steps to take if you suspect you or someone you love is having a stroke. For more information on risk factors of a stroke, please go here.
Having a stroke can leave a person with permanent damage. With quick and accurate first aid administration the effects of this life-altering condition can be less serious. Knowing the signs of a stroke can help lower the impact on the resulting quality of life for the person suffering the stroke.
When arteries are affected by a disease a stroke can be the result. These arteries are those leading up to and inside the brain. When a blood vessel carries a clot or bursts inside the brain, the brain cannot get the right nutrients and brain cells begin to die.
There are three types of stroke that can affect you or someone you love. An Ischemic Stroke is when a blood vessel becomes clogged blocking blood flow. A Hemorrhagic Stroke is when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain. Finally, there is a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). These happen when blood flow to the brain is only temporarily interrupted.
Signs of a Stroke
There are four main signs of a stroke. It is easy to memorize these symptoms with the acronym FAST. It is important for friends and family of those at risk for a stroke to memorize these four early intervention strategies.
• Face Drooping
Face drooping is when one side of the face loses muscle control or presents with numbness. If an uneven or lopsided smile is present, this is a sign of face drooping.
• Arm Weakness
When a person has one arm that is weak or numb asked them to raise both arms. If one arm drifts down or cannot be maintained, then they have arm weakness. Typically, weakness and drooping will occur on the same side.
• Speech Difficulty
Complete loss or slurring of speech. Ask them to repeat a simple sentence. If they cannot repeat the simple sentence without slurring their speech, they meet the criteria for speech difficulty.
• Time to Call 911
If someone has ANY of the signs, it is time to call 911.
The Stroke Association notes that calling 911 and telling them that the person shows signs of a stroke will help get the person to the hospital immediately. Time is vital, don’t delay calling 911. Make sure emergency responders know right away if a stroke is suspected.
In addition to these FAST tactics for identifying and treating stroke, The Stroke Association has some additional symptoms that you should be on the lookout for:
- Sudden onset numbness or a weak face, arm, or leg muscles. Especially if it is only on one side of the body.
- Confusion or trouble speaking. Difficulty understanding speech.
- Trouble seeing.
- Sudden trouble walking, the appearance of dizziness or loss of coordination or balance.
- Severe headache with no known cause.
Life After A Stroke
The Stroke Association reports that life after a stroke rarely looks familiar. Often, recovery includes some type of therapy to help rehabilitate the stroke victim. Depending on the severity of the stroke, damage to muscle coordination, speech function, or thoughts may be permanent.
Once a person has reached their maximum potential outcome from their rehabilitative services, assessments will be made to determine the type of home health options required, if any. From there, connecting with stroke recovery victim organizations will assist in the stroke victim’s transition home.
The final step in the rehabilitation process is regaining independence. For many, their new independence will look quite different from what it did before the stroke. Many in-home modifications could be necessary in order to allow the stroke survivor to live independently. These modifications may include ramps, lower counters, in-home health care or assistance, and more.
Strokes can be a deadly occurrence, but with life-saving early intervention, this does not have to be the result. Early detection and intervention of a stroke allow for quicker and greater recovery for a survivor. Proper recovery and medical care can also assist the survivor in making a full recovery back to independent living.