Recognizing the Warning Signs of a Stroke
When a stroke occurs, you should call 9-1-1 immediately, because every second counts. During this type of medical emergency – which is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. – vital blood flow to an area of the brain is blocked. When this happens, brain cells are deprived of essential oxygen and begin to die. As a result, the bodily functions controlled by the affected area of the brain, such as speech, memory, and muscle control, may be lost.
A stroke can potentially happen to anyone at any time. By recognizing the warning signs and knowing what to do if they occur, you can potentially save a life. The American Heart Association promotes the acronym “F.A.S.T.” as an easy way to remember the most common warning signs of a stroke. F.A.S.T. stands for:
- Facial drooping – Does the victim’s face seem lopsided? Does one side of the face feel numb? Does his or her smile look uneven?
- Arm weakness – Does one of the victim’s arms feel weak or numb? When he or she raises both arms, does one arm naturally drift downward?
- Speech difficulties – Is the victim’s speech slurred or difficult to understand? Can he or she correctly repeat a simple sentence, such as “The sky is blue?”
- Time to call 9-1-1 – If any of these symptoms are apparent, call 9-1-1 and get the victim to a hospital immediately – even if the symptoms go away. Also, be sure to check the time so you can tell a physician when the symptom(s) first appeared.
Other warning signs of a stroke include:
- Sudden weakness or numbness in one side of the body
- Sudden loss of strength, coordination, sensation, vision, speech, or the ability to understand speech
- Sudden dimness of vision, especially in one eye
- Sudden dizziness or loss of balance, possibly accompanied by fever, nausea, vomiting, hiccups, or swallowing difficulties
- Sudden and severe headache immediately followed by a loss of consciousness (this can indicate a stroke caused by bleeding)
- Sudden confusion
- Brief loss of consciousness
Remember, if you or someone else experiences any of these symptoms, you should immediately proceed to the nearest emergency room, where there are medical professionals available who are trained to quickly and accurately diagnose and treat stroke victims.
If you have any questions about how to recognize the common signs of a stroke, or you would like to discuss stroke risk factors, you can speak with a doctor at South Tampa Immediate Care. No appointments are necessary at our walk-in clinic, where we diagnose and treat a variety of common, non-emergency health conditions.