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What Are The Warning Signs Of A Stroke?

November 19, 2020

The warning signs of a stroke may vary from person to person, but the one thing that is for certain is how serious they are. Stroke ranks fifth among all causes of death in the United States, behind diseases of the heart and cancer. And African Americans are at particularly high risk.

Stroke is a type of cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries leading to and within the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it starts to die.

In order to better understand the warning signs of a stroke, let’s take a look at the types of stroke that can occur, what happens before a stroke, and the symptoms you may experience.

The Two Types Of Stroke

The two most common types of stroke are ischemic and hemorrhagic.

Ischemic strokes are caused by a clot obstructing the flow of blood to the brain. Since ischemic strokes are the most common type, there are treatment options available. The only FDA approved treatment for ischemic strokes is tissue plasminogen activator or tPA. It works by dissolving the blood clot and improving blood flow to the part of the brain that’s being deprived.

Hemorrhagic or bleeding strokes are caused by a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain. It accounts for 13% of all strokes.

What Happens Before A Stroke?

Prior to a stroke, many people experience a TIA (transient ischemic attack). This is a "mini-stroke" or "warning stroke." TIAs can occur days, weeks or even months before a major stroke.

TIAs occur when a blood clot temporarily clogs an artery, and part of the brain doesn't get the blood it needs. The warning signs are the same as a stroke, but they occur and disappear relatively quickly — usually in less than five minutes. Unlike a stroke, when a TIA occurs, the blood clot resolves itself and there's no permanent injury.

How To Remember The Warning Signs Of A Stroke

Warning signs for stroke can be remembered with the mnemonic "FAST."

F: FACE

  • Uneven smile
  •  Facial droop/numbness
  •  Vision disturbance

A: ARM & LEG

  • Weakness
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty walking

S: SPEECH

  • Slurred
  •  Inappropriate words
  •  Mute

T: TIME

  • Time is critical
  •  CALL 911

You may also add the letters “B” and “E” to create the acronym “BEFAST” (Be Fast). The “B” in this case stands for “balance” and the “E” stands for “eyes.” Someone who is experiencing a stroke may have trouble standing or walking and they may be experiencing blurred vision.

But there are some other symptoms to consider. Signs may show up only on one side of the body and may include:

  • Confusion
  •  Trouble speaking or understanding
  •  Dizziness
  •  Loss of balance or coordination
  •  Severe headache with no known cause

When a stroke occurs and part of your brain dies from lack of blood flow, the part of the body it controls is affected. Strokes can cause paralysis, affect language and vision, and cause other problems. That’s why it’s so important that you act “FAST” if you see someone having a stroke.

In addition to quitting smoking, eating a healthy diet, and exercising, one of the first steps you can take to decrease your risk of stroke is to “know your numbers.” It starts by controlling your cholesterol levels.

It is important that cholesterol levels be checked as early as age 20. If your values are within normal range and you do not have other risk factors for heart disease, you can continue getting tested every five years.

Our guide can help you keep track of your cholesterol by introducing you to the four things that can affect your cholesterol levels the most. All you need to do is to click on the link below and start living a healthier lifestyle today.

Know Your Numbers