A stroke is a medical emergency. Prompt treatment is crucial. Early action can minimize brain damage and potential complications. FACT: Every second counts!
This excellent 5-minute video will help you understand how a stroke affects your loved one — how it damages the brain, how it affects behavior and why it’s so important to call 911 immediately.
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is interrupted or severely reduced. This deprives brain tissue of vital oxygen and nutrients. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die.
If you notice one or more of these symptoms of a stroke, don’t wait. Call 911 immediately for an ambulance; get the person to a hospital right away! Expect the person to protest — denial is common — especially if it’s “only” a mini-stroke. Don’t take “no” for an answer. Insist on taking prompt action. Treatment can be more effective if given quickly.
Not all symptoms of a stroke occur every time. Don’t ignore the symptoms, even if they go away!
Important: If you suspect that your loved one is having or had a stroke, check the time. When did the first symptoms of a stroke start? You’ll be asked this important question later by the health care professionals who will treat your loved one.
Typical symptoms of a stroke …
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, loss of memory, or loss of consciousness
- Difficulty speaking or understanding others
- Sudden loss of vision, blurring or dimness of vision in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
- Nausea and vomiting along with any of the symptoms above
If you have any question about calling 911, think “FAST” and do the following:
- Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is he or she unable to raise one arm up?
- Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as “The sky is blue.” Is his or her speech slurred or strange?
- Time. If you observe any of these signs,
Timing is Critical
Important: The longer the time between the onset of a stroke, the less chance you have for a full recovery. If administered within 3 hours, the drug tPA may improve the chance of recovering from a stroke. But, a significant number of stroke victims don’t get to the hospital in time. That is why it’s so important to identify a stroke immediately.
Symptoms of a Mini-Stroke (TIA)
A mini-stroke is also known as a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA). It often has the same symptoms as a major stroke, except that it lasts only a few minutes, is usually milder and sometimes has no apparent residual effects. But, another type of TIA, the “silent stroke,” may not produce visible symptoms, and may not even be noticed by the person having it.
A major cause of vascular dementia is multiple TIAs (transient ischemic attacks).
About 10 percent of strokes are preceded by TIAs. Someone who’s had one or more TIAs is 10 times more likely to have a stroke than someone of the same age and sex who has not. As a result, TIAs are extremely important stroke warning signs. Don’t ignore the symptoms of a stroke! Call 911 NOW. Get medical help immediately.
- Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms — American Stroke Association/American Heart Association
- Diseases and Conditions: Dementia — Mayo Clinic