A stroke can happen instantly, but precautions can be taken
Stress can lead to compromised health
Merdies Hayes Managing Editor | 7/2/2020, midnight
In a flash, it comes out of nowhere. Your head hurts and you don’t know why. Your eyes water and vision is blurry. In short order, you feel nauseous, have some difficulty speaking, and possibly an arm or leg feels weaker.
Experts advise the simple but effective acronym F.A.S.T.: “Facial drooping,” “Arm weakness,” Speech difficulties” and, lastly, “Time.” Call 911 immediately when you see the signs, because “time lost is brain lost.”
While these early warning signs are not experienced by everyone, they are a clue that you’ve had a brain accident. There’s been an interruption of oxygen and nutrients to the brain. Other indicators of a stroke may include sudden confusion, a loss of balance and coordination and, in some cases, sudden seizures.
Symptoms can pass quickly
Sometimes these symptoms pass quickly. Yet, they are important indicators that require immediate medical attention. The motto “time lost is brain lost” rings true to millions of persons each year who may experience warning signs of a stroke. The American Stroke Association (ASA) has reported that someone dies of a stroke every three to four minutes.
Sometimes these early symptoms may last only a few minutes and disappear. This type of brief episode is known as transient ischemic attack (TIA or “mini-stroke”). Neurologists say there is basically no way to tell whether the symptoms are from a mini-stroke or a major stroke. That is why prompt evaluation is so important within 60 minutes to identify the cause of the stroke and to determine appropriate therapy.
The ASA reports that 80 percent of strokes are the result of a clot (ischemic strokes), and the rest are likely due to bleeding in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke). The warning signs, however, need not be accompanied by a panic attack, but they do require quick thinking. A stroke can impair the ability to speak or understand speech. Therefore, if you call 911 you may be asked to follow a brief exercise: Repeat the phrase “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” If you are slurring the words, or using the wrong words or unable to speak at all, there is a significant chance that you’ve had a stroke.
Extremities can suddenly weaken
When a person is experiencing a stroke, it is common for an arm or leg (or both) to suddenly weaken, go numb, or become paralyzed. Often the affected limb(s) are on one the side of the body opposite from where the stroke occurred in the brain. Another tip is to extend both arms (palms up) for 10 seconds. If one arm drifts downward, that may also indicate muscle weakness which is a sign of s stroke. You should try to recline in a chair and—with both eyes open—lift each leg separately until they are parallel to the ground. If you can’t lift each leg one at a time, you may have had a stroke.
Most of the time all you may experience is a very bad headache. This is reportedly the most common stroke symptom. Also, there is the “droopy face” or sudden one-sided facial weakness. When paramedics arrive to treat a possible stroke victim, they will often ask a person to smile or show their teeth. If one side of the face sags or doesn’t move, that is usually a signal to EMTs that they are treating a stroke victim.