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Stroke: Become Familiar with the Warning Signs!

January 29, 2018

 

I recently had a family member hospitalized for a stroke. Unfortunately, his spouse did not know the warning signs of a stroke so they waited to seek medical attention.  We are hoping that this lack of understanding on their part does not result in permanent issues.  

 

So this week in my blog I wanted to address strokes and the urgent need to seek medical attention when experiencing or seeing these signs!  It is always better to seek guidance than have issues that cannot be resolved later. 

 

That being said...

 

What is a stroke?  A stroke is a serious medical change that requires immediate medical attention!  

 

During a stroke the blood supply to an area of the brain is stopped or rather cut off for whatever reason.

 

In the case of an Ischemic stroke the arteries to your brain become narrowed and / or blocked, resulting in reduced blood flow and oxygenation - ischemia.   Ischemia is when a person has an inadequate blood supply to an organ or part of the body, which results in complications and damage to the effected area. 

 

A stroke can obviously result in a number of temporary and permanent issues for those effected.  It should never be taken in a trivial manner as fast action matters for the long term and for survival.   The symptoms of a stroke strongly depend upon the area of the brain that has become affected.  The region that lacks blood supply will cause the resulting issues which can include changes in behavior, memory, fine and gross motor function, swallowing and speech, and more. 

 

Stroke symptoms depend upon the region, but also upon how much of the brain tissue is deprived of blood supply.

 

For example a transient ischemic attack, or TIA, a "mini-stroke."  will cause symptoms that occur, but then resolve often quickly without intervention.  This should be viewed as a warning sign and diagnostic testing should be done timely to identify the cause and plan going forward.  

 

For individuals having a stroke, some have a full recovery, while many others are left with permanent damage, resulting in rehab needs, skilled nursing home placement and permanent disability.  

 

Prompt action is critical when a stroke occurs as this can reduce the long-term effects of the stroke and sometimes prevent death.  

 

_____________________________

 

The American Stroke Association encourages everyone to become familiar with the following acronym:  

FAST

 

This simple word will help you to quickly identify the symptoms and seek prompt medical attention!  

 

 

F: Face drooping. Ask the person to smile, and see if one side is drooping. One side of the face may also be numb, and the smile may appear uneven.

A: Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Is there weakness or numbness on one side? One arm drifting downward is a sign of one-sided arm weakness.

S: Speech difficulty. People having a stroke may slur their speech or have trouble speaking at all. Speech may be incomprehensible. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and look for any speech abnormality.

T: Time to call 9-1-1! If a person shows any of the symptoms above, even if the symptoms went away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to a hospital immediately.

 

Some other signs to watch for as each person can manifest symptoms differently: 

  • The inability to use a body part or ​generalized weakness on one side of the body 

  • Paralysis or stiffness of any part of the body.

  • Walking issues- difficulty walking or loss of balance and coordination

  • Dizziness

  • The inability to speak or difficulty in finding the right words 

  • Changes in behavior, irritability, or confusion

  • Blurry vision, involuntary eye movements, staring blankly, or trouble with focusing

  • Headache that is severe or seems different than in the past.  

  • Processing issues, lack of understanding of simple spoken or written words

  • Short term memory loss or not recognizing others

  • Difficulty eating, drinking, swallowing, drooling (coughing when eating or drinking clear liquids)

Please ensure that you seek guidance anytime you suspect a stroke is occurring.  Do not ever hesitate to seek assistance!  

 

 

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