A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted. Symptoms depend on the area of the brain affected by the loss of blood supply and include changes in sensory and motor control.
The symptoms of a stroke depend on the extent to which the brain tissue is deprived of blood supply. For example, a person with a mild stroke may experience temporary weakness in their arms or legs, while a severe stroke may result in permanent paralysis on one side of the body or the inability to speak. The effects may be permanent unless the blood supply is quickly restored, either alone or with therapy.
A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is sometimes called a “mini-stroke.” During a TIA, the symptoms of a stroke may appear but go away on their own.
Some people make a full recovery from a stroke, but more than two-thirds of stroke survivors have some form of disability.
How to determine if a person is having a stroke?
If you suspect someone may be having a stroke, it’s important to act quickly. Prompt treatment of a stroke can help reduce the long-term effects of a stroke, as well as reduce a person’s risk of dying from a stroke.
FAST stands for Rapid Recognition of Stroke Signs and Symptoms. You can download the FAST app from the American Stroke Association’s website to help you remember these symptoms.
Use FAST to remember and recognize post-stroke symptoms.
F: Face drooping. Ask the person to smile and see if one side droops. One side of the face may be numb and the smile may look uneven.
A: Hand weakness. Ask the person to raise both hands. Is there weakness or numbness on one side? One arm swinging down is a sign of unilateral arm weakness.
S: Speech impairment. People with stroke may slur their speech or have difficulty speaking at all. Speech may be slurred. Ask the person to repeat simple sentences and look for speech errors.
T: Time to call 911! If a person experiences any of the above symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and take the person to the hospital immediately.