Don't Miss These Important Signs of a Stroke

How to Know if You or Someone Else Is Having a Stroke

Woman having a stroke
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Stroke symptoms can be confusing, but it is important to be able to recognize a stroke because a stroke is a medical emergency.

Strokes are "brain attacks," meaning that a stroke is caused by an interrupted blood supply to a portion of the brain. Unlike heart attacks, which are painful events, brain attacks are not usually painful. In fact, stroke symptoms can be strange or puzzling. Some studies show that as many of 30 percent of strokes go undiagnosed within the first three weeks.

Strokes are actually treatable, so it is important to be able to recognize a stroke, so that you can get the right emergency treatment.

How to Know if You're Having a Stroke

Body weakness- If you experience weakness on one side of your face, arms, hands or legs, you should obtain medical attention right away.

Facial weakness caused by a stroke often manifests as eyelid drooping or slurred speech.

Vision changes, such as blurred vision, double vision, vision loss, or partial vision loss can be the sign of a stroke or another serious eye emergency.

Balance and coordination problems caused by a stroke make it difficult to walk or to use your hands.

Sensory abnormalities, such as numbness, tingling, or a burning sensation may not be as noticeable as weakness or vision changes, but it may be the only sign of a stroke. Usually, sensory deficits occur on one side of the body during a stroke.

Headaches or dizziness may signal a stroke or another urgent neurological condition.

It is best to err on the side of caution and get medical attention right away. Time spent in deciding whether or not to obtain medical attention could end up as time wasted from getting the proper treatment.

Trouble speaking- If you're having trouble getting your words out or difficulty with understanding words, it is important to get attention right away.

When your ability to communicate is impaired, that is when it is obviously most difficult to be able to ask for help.

What Should You Do if You Suspect a Stroke?

If it is possible to call 911, then you should do that right away. But, sometimes weakness, poor coordination, or vision problems make it difficult for you to call for emergency care yourself. In these situations, the best way to ask for help is to try to get the attention of people who are nearby, such as family, friends, coworkers, or even strangers if you do not know any of the people around.

How to Know if Someone Else Is Having a Stroke

If you are a companion of someone who has sudden weakness, loss of sensation, vision changes, severe dizziness, or extreme headaches, you should be aware that this could be an unstable situation and that your companion may get worse quickly. You should call for help immediately before the situation worsens.

Because a stroke can affect thinking, judgment, and insight, sometimes a stroke victim is unaware of what is happening or may not be able to describe to you what is going on.

When someone else is having a stroke, you may notice some changes such as a lack of symmetry between the two sides of the face or a slumping of one side of the body. Stroke victims may be confused. In some instances, a stroke may manifest with falling.

The best response is to obtain care right away, rather than waiting to see if things get better. Whether your companion is experiencing a stroke or not, neurological symptoms are red flags and diagnosis and treatment is urgent.

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