Know the Signs of Stroke and How to Protect Your Heart
How to recognize, respond to, and prevent a stroke
A stroke occurs when the blood flow to parts of the brain is reduced or interrupted. Sometimes a stroke is called a “brain attack.” Brain cells die when they do not receive enough oxygen and nutrients.
Symptoms vary depending on which parts of the brain are affected by the stroke. A stroke may result in mild to severe paralysis, problems speaking or thinking, and emotional problems.
If a stroke occurs, seek medical help right away!
Keep reading to learn more.
Types of strokes
There are two main types of stroke:
- Ischemic stroke
- Hemorrhagic stroke
Ischemic strokes are more common. An ischemic stroke can happen when something blocks the flow of blood through the arteries in your brain. Blood flow may be blocked by a blood clot, plaque deposits, or debris carried from other parts of your body.
A hemorrhagic stroke can happen when an artery in the brain leaks blood or bursts and damages brain cells. A hemorrhagic stroke may be caused by uncontrolled high blood pressure, a weak spot in a blood vessel wall (called an aneurysm), or drugs such as those that thin your blood.
Another type of stroke is called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA. Sometimes a TIA is called a “mini stroke.” Like an ischemic stroke, a TIA happens when blood flow in the brain is blocked. The blockage in a TIA resolves on its own before it causes damage. It may, however, mean you are more likely to have another stroke.
The symptoms of a stroke reflect the parts of the brain affected by the stroke. Symptoms may happen very quickly and include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness, often in one arm or leg or on one side of the face
- Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause
How to recognize a stroke
To help you recognize stroke symptoms and act, remember the letters in the word “FAST”.
F=Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A=Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S=Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or hard to understand?
T=Time to call 911. Call 911 as soon as you observe any of these signs of stroke. Call an ambulance even if the symptoms go away. Immediate treatment can save a life.
What to do when you recognize a stroke
If you think someone is having a stroke, call 911. Call an ambulance because treatment can begin in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. Immediate treatment can limit permanent brain damage and save the life of the person having the stroke.
How to help prevent a stroke
You can reduce your risk of having a stroke by keeping medical conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease under control. You can also decrease your risk of stroke by making lifestyle choices that include:
- Getting regular exercise
- Eating well
- Sleeping for 7 to 9 hours each night
- Keeping blood pressure and cholesterol levels within healthy limits
- Maintaining healthy body weight
- Not smoking
- Limiting alcohol use
- See a video on stroke
- Learn more about stroke
- Get the Explaining Stroke booklet
- Learn more about Preventing Stroke
- Read more about how A Good Night’s Sleep May Decrease Cardiovascular disease