Depending on the severity and duration of the disruption in blood flow, a stroke can cause temporary or permanent disability. The sooner you recognize the symptoms of a stroke and seek medical attention, the better your chances of recovering and avoiding serious brain damage or disability.
A stroke occurs when blood flow to your brain is interrupted. When blood does not reach the brain, brain cells begin to die and permanent brain damage can occur.
Acting quickly can make a big difference to someone having a stroke. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) emphasizes that getting emergency help within an hour can prevent long-term disability or death.
According to 2018 guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA), people treated with clot-busting medications within 4.5 hours of symptoms will have a better chance of recovering without severe disability.
Some strokes may require surgical treatment. The ability to recognize the symptoms of a stroke can mean the difference between life and death.
Symptoms of a stroke
Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke and getting help as quickly as possible can help you have a better chance of recovering.
Early intervention can reduce the time blood flow to the brain is disrupted
1. Suddenly tired
Fatigue or numbness in an arm, leg, or face is a typical sign of a stroke, especially if it’s only on one side of the body.
If you smile and look in the mirror, you may notice that one side of your face is sagging. If you try and raise both arms, you may have trouble lifting one side. Depending on the severity, a stroke can also lead to paralysis on one side of your body.
2. Sudden confusion
A stroke can cause sudden confusion. For example, if you’re typing on your computer or in a conversation, you might suddenly have trouble speaking, thinking, or understanding voices.
3. Sudden change in vision
Loss of vision or difficulty seeing in one or both eyes is another symptom of a stroke. You may suddenly lose your vision completely or have blurred or double vision.
4. Sudden loss of balance
Because of one-sided weakness, you may have difficulty walking, loss of balance or coordination, and dizziness.
Sudden loss of balance is one of the typical stroke signs to watch out for!
5. Sudden headache
If a severe headache comes on suddenly for no apparent reason, you could be having a stroke. Often, these headaches can be accompanied by dizziness or vomiting.
If you have a history of migraines, it can be difficult to identify these or vision problems as a sign of a stroke. Talk to your doctor about how to determine if you’re having a stroke or migraine.
Because a stroke can be life-threatening, always seek immediate medical help if you suspect symptoms of a stroke.
Quick action after stroke symptoms
A person who has had a stroke can have more than one symptom at the same time. While you’re likely to notice strange symptoms or feel like something is wrong with your body, you may not realize you have a serious problem until it’s too late.
Stroke symptoms can develop slowly over hours or days. If you have had a stroke, also known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), symptoms are temporary and usually improve within a few hours. The cause of this condition is often stress, migraine or nerve problems.
Any symptoms of a stroke should be checked by a doctor
If you arrive at the hospital within three hours of your first symptoms of an ischemic stroke, your doctor may give you medication to dissolve the clot and restore blood flow to the brain. Fast action improves the odds of a full stroke recovery. It also reduces the severity of disabilities that can be caused by a stroke.
A simple quick test can help you identify strokes in yourself and others.
- Face: Ask the person to smile to check for signs of drooping on one side of the face
- Arm: Ask the person to raise their hand. Falling hands can be a sign of a stroke
- Language: Ask the person to repeat a phrase without slurring.
- Time: Do not waste time. Call local emergency services right away if you or someone you know shows signs of a stroke.
Who is at risk of stroke?
Anyone can have a stroke, but some people are at a higher risk. Knowing you have a higher risk of stroke can help you, your family and friends prepare in case you experience symptoms of a stroke.
If you fall into one of the following groups, you have a higher risk of having a stroke:
- History of stroke or heart attack
- High cholesterol
- High Blood Pressure
- Heart disease
- Sickle cell disease
Lifestyle choices and behaviors
- Unhealthy diet
- Tobacco use
- No physical activity
- Drinking too much alcohol
Additional risk factors
- Family history
- Age: over 55 years old
- Gender: Women are at higher risk than men
- Race: African-Americans are at higher risk
Some risk factors are out of your control, such as age and family history. However, you can reduce other risk factors by working with your doctor and making lifestyle changes. Seek treatment for any condition that may increase your risk of stroke. Adopting healthy habits, such as exercising regularly, reducing alcohol intake, and eating a balanced diet can also help reduce your risk.
Knowing the symptoms of a stroke can help you get help quickly and improve your outlook. Early treatment can increase your chances of survival and reduce your risk of more serious complications of a stroke.
Learn to Recognize the Signs of a Stroke https://www.healthline.com/health/stroke/stroke-warning-signs Accessed: 9/12/2020
Everything You Should Know About Stroke Symptoms https://www.healthline.com/health/stroke/symptoms Accessed: 9/12/2020
John Alen was born in 1971 and is a doctor in the healthcare and psychology fields with many years of experience. He is currently working at easyhealthylive.com, a leading health and psychology blog. Having studied at Y1 National Medical University named after IM Sechenov, John Alen is using his knowledge and experience to help improve the physical and mental health of people in the United States.