Common signs of a stroke
Before diving into the symptoms, it’s essential to grasp the basics of strokes. Strokes can be classified into two main types: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic strokes, caused by a blockage in a blood vessel supplying the brain, are more common, accounting for about 85% of all stroke cases. Hemorrhagic strokes, on the other hand, occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures or leaks.
Recognising the warning signs
The acronym FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) is widely used to raise awareness about stroke symptoms. It stands for:
Face: Sudden weakness or drooping on one side of the face, usually noticeable by an uneven smile or drooping mouth.
Arms: Weakness or numbness in one arm or leg, making it difficult to raise or hold.
Speech: Slurred speech or difficulty speaking coherently.
Time: Time is of the essence; if any of the above symptoms are present, call emergency services immediately.
While the FAST acronym covers the most prominent signs, strokes can manifest in various other ways. These additional symptoms may include:
Sudden severe headache with no cause.
Confusion, disorientation, or trouble understanding others.
Loss of balance or coordination, leading to dizziness or difficulty walking.
Trouble seeing in one or both eyes, such as blurred or double vision.
Nausea, vomiting, or general fatigue without any clear reason.
Importance of prompt action
Recognising the symptoms and acting quickly is crucial when it comes to stroke. Every minute counts. Immediate medical attention can provide potential treatment options, such as clot-busting medications or clot-removal procedures, that can minimise brain damage and improve outcomes. Delaying medical help may result in irreversible brain injury or even loss of life.
Strokes are life-threatening medical emergencies that require urgent attention. Being aware of the common symptoms, including facial weakness, arm weakness, and speech difficulties, and the importance of seeking medical help promptly can make a significant difference in stroke outcomes. Remember the FAST acronym, but also be mindful of other potential symptoms and act swiftly if you suspect someone may be experiencing a stroke. By spreading awareness and understanding, we can ensure that strokes are detected early, leading to better chances of recovery and improved quality of life for stroke survivors.