During a stroke, the blood flow to a section of the brain is either cut off through a blockage in an artery or flooded due to a ruptured hemorrhage. Until blood flow is restored with emergency medical intervention, the brain sustains serious, permanent damage as brain cells are deprived of oxygen. The after effects of a stroke can vary significantly, depending on the type of stroke and the area of the brain affected, but any stroke survivor can expect a long and challenging road ahead in recovery. Still, the sooner medical care is received, the more likely a positive outcome is, so it is essential for everyone to know the signs of an oncoming stroke.
You might think that you are not at risk for stroke, but the truth is that anyone can have a stroke without much warning ahead of time. There are, however, a number of risk factors that can increase the odds of a stroke—including old age, hypertension, family history of stroke, and obesity. Working with your doctor from a preventive angle to manage these and other risk factors is the best strategy to combat stroke, though it is still vital to know the signs of a stroke when you experience them. Let’s look closer at what you might feel if you are currently or about to have a stroke.
You suddenly cannot communicate
Language comprehension and creation occurs in many different areas of the brain, so difficulty communicating is often reported in stroke victims. For some people, it may be easy to understand what other people are saying, but it is difficult or impossible to put together a string of words in response. Others might find themselves speaking in a string of nonsensical words or appear confused when asked to repeat back simple sentences. In addition to this type of confusion, you might also have trouble concentrating in general and feel that your thoughts are somewhat fuzzy.
You feel dizzy
Along with a loss of cognitive capabilities, you might lose control of your balance with feelings of dizziness or sudden lightheadedness. It may be difficult to walk or stand, and you might have trouble controlling your arms and legs. In fact, many stroke victims will experience droopiness on one side of the face and body with the inability to raise both arms at the same time or the appearance of a droopy smile.
You have a severe, sudden headache
Similar to a heart attack, a stroke can cause severe pain, but it’s not always a symptom. If you have a sudden, severe headache or migraine, it is best to call 9-1-1, even if you aren’t sure that a stroke is the root of your pain.
Your vision is blurry
For some, the first sign of a stroke is sudden changes in vision, particularly blurriness. This is likely when a stroke affects the area of the brain that communicates with the optic nerve, so it may not always be a sign of a stroke, depending on the area of the brain affected.
Time is Brain
Be prepared to act FAST if you recognize the signs of a stroke, since the sooner treatment is started, the smaller the area of permanent damage to the brain will be. The acronym F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the signs of stroke, and can help identify the onset of stroke more quickly:
Most often, stroke symptoms are not felt in isolation, so you will generally experience a range of sudden symptoms all at once, though you should take all possible stroke symptoms seriously and call for help as soon as they arise. If you suspect that you’re having a stroke, call 9-1-1 right away. For tips to help you manage your health from a preventive angle, connect with a MeMD provider to talk about developing a healthier lifestyle.