Fast Medical Attention for Stroke
A stroke is what occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or stopped. Within a few minutes of a stroke, brain cells begin to die. This is why it's so important for someone who is having a stroke to get medical attention as quickly as possible. Stroke affects about one person every four minutes in the US, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Symptoms of a Possible Stroke
There are two kinds of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. In ischemic stroke, the most common type, a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain. In hemorrhagic stroke, a blood vessel breaks and bleeds into the brain. Symptoms of a possible stroke include:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg—especially on one side of the body
- Difficulty with speaking or understanding speech
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause.
If you or someone you're with has any of these symptoms, you must get yourself or them to a hospital immediately. Staff in the emergency department will administer acute stroke medications to try to stop a stroke while it is happening. Ischemic stroke, the most common type of stroke, is treated with the 'clot-busting' drug known as tPA. The drug must be given to patients within three- to four-and-a-half hours after the onset of stroke symptoms.
If you or someone near you may be having a stroke, call 911 right away. The quicker you call for help, the sooner medical treatment can begin. Emergency room staff will administer acute stroke medications to stop a stroke. In the most common kind of stroke, called an Ischemic stroke, a ‘clot-busting’ drug known as tPA is administered. It must be given to patients within three- to four-and-a-half hours after the onset of stroke symptoms, and preferably sooner.
Use the acronym FAST to quickly identify possible strokes:
F = FACE
Smile. Does one side of the face droop? Can you see the same number of teeth on each side of the face?
A = ARMS
Hold up both arms for 10 seconds. Does one drift downward?
S = SPEECH
Repeat a simple sentence. Is the speech slurred or strange? Can you understand the person?
T = TIME
If these signs are present, every second counts. Call 9-1-1 immediately.
The best way to keep your brain healthy is to avoid a stroke in the first place. The best ways to prevent stroke are to do the following:
- Keep your blood pressure controlled through lifestyle changes and/or medications
- Don't smoke or stop smoking
- Take steps to manage your cholesterol
- Limit your alcohol consumption
- Exercise regularly
- Maintain a healthy weight