Signs of a Stroke You Need to Know

A stroke occurs when part of the brain loses its blood supply which then damages brain cells. The effects of a stroke depend on the area of the brain that was affected and damaged.

A stroke is a medical emergency and treatment should be sought immediately. A stroke can lead to permeant disability or even death. It is very important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke so that you will be able to call for emergency medical services as soon as possible.

Signs of a Stroke

The symptoms of a stroke can appear quickly and without warning. You can remember the signs of a stroke by using the acronym F.A.S.T.

F - Face drooping

  • Is one side of the face drooping?
  • Is one side of the face numb?
  • Is one side of the face distorted looking?
  • If you are unsure, ask the person to smile- if the smile appears uneven or droops on one side it may be a stroke.

A – Arm weakness

  • Is one arm weak?
  • Is one arm numb?
  • Ask the person to lift their arms up- if they are unable to do it may be a sign of a stroke.

S – Speech difficulty

  • Is the person’s speech slurred or incomprehensible?
  • Abnormal or slurred speech may be the sign or a stoke.

T – Time to call 9-1-1

  • If the person exhibits any of the symptoms above, 9-1-1 should be called immediately.
  • The sooner that a person experiencing a stroke receives medical attention, the better the prognosis is.

A stroke can cause an issue with any function of the nervous symptom. The signs and symptoms of a stroke typically come on very quickly and affect one side of the body. Other symptoms of a stroke include weakness on any part of the body, pins and needles sensation anywhere in the body, numbness anywhere in the body, trouble walking, dizziness, headache, inability to speak, slurred speech, loss of coordination, changes in vision including blurred vision and difficulty seeing, memory loss, difficulty swallowing, stiff and rigid muscles, involuntary eye twitches and movements.

Knowing how to quickly identify a stroke can help to save someone’s life. Even if the symptoms appear and go away, medical attention should be sought immediately. This may be the signs of a transient ischemic attack which is also known as a mini-stroke. 

A stroke is diagnosed using a physical examination. The doctor will also ask about family medical history, symptoms and personal lifestyle. The doctor will also check blood pressure and look for signs of blood clots. Blood tests, computerized tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) are also common tests. The doctor may also order a carotid ultrasound, cerebral angiogram and echocardiogram for further testing.

The most effective way of preventing a stroke from occurring is to live a healthy lifestyle which includes:

  • Eating a balanced diet
  • Not smoking
  • Getting regular exercise
  • Monitoring and controlling blood pressure
  • Managing preexisting health conditions including diabetes
  • Limiting alcohol intake

Aneurysm

A cerebral (brain) aneurysm is a weak area an artery that provides crucial blood to the brain. Generally, a cerebral aneurysm does not cause any symptoms. A person may not even be aware that they had a cerebral aneurysm. If a cerebral aneurysm hemorrhages a stoke may occur. A cerebral aneurysm can cause lifelong brain damage, or can be fatal.

A person may be more likely to suffer from an aneurysm if they develop hardening of the arteries. Getting older may also increase a person’s likelihood of developing a cerebral aneurysm, or having one rupture. Other risk factors include genetics, high blood pressure, smoking, being female, and being African American. In most cases, a cerebral aneurysm will not cause any symptoms. Other times, an aneurysm can cause issues by pressing on certain areas of the brain. This can cause many different symptoms including blurred vision, neck pain, slurred speech and headaches. A ruptured brain aneurysm will cause severe symptoms that come on rapidly. Emergency medical help should be called if a person suddenly has severe headaches, neck pain, vomiting, light sensitivity, fainting, loss of consciousness and seizures.

The doctor will order the following tests to determine if you have a brain aneurysm:

  • Computed tomography (CT) scan
    • This type of test can help to show bleeding in the brain
  • Computed tomography angiogram (CTA) scan
    • This type of test can provide more detail of the blood vessels and their overall function. A dye may be used to help the blood vessels show up more clearly.
  • Magnetic resonance angiography 
    • This type of test can provide detailed pictures of the blood vessels. A dye may be used to help the blood vessels show up better.
  • Cerebral angiogram
    • This is a more invasive test that involves injecting a dye into the cerebral artery. This allows for issues to be seen more clearly in the x-rays. This test is the best way to locate brain aneurysms that are less than 5 mm in size.

Treatment for a cerebral aneurysm depends on a variety of different factors. These factors include the size of the aneurysm, your age, overall health and other risk factors. Your doctor may want to continue observing your condition. The doctor will also encourage a healthy lifestyle including quitting smoking and managing high blood pressure. If an aneurysm is causing pain and symptoms, the doctor may recommend surgery.

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