The month of May is American Stroke Awareness Month. According to the National Stroke Association, 65,000 Americans will experience a stroke with many unaware that they were even at risk. American Stroke Awareness Month is an observance that highlights the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke and encourage you to act FAST (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911) if someone is having a stroke. In this week’s blog post, we will discuss these symptoms and how you can help someone that you think might be suffering from a stroke. A stroke can happen in an instant and can change the life of the person suffering the stroke forever. It’s an emergency that can happen to anyone at any time, and at any age. We must all know the signs and symptoms of a stroke and be ready to act in an instant. Every minute after a stroke is key as getting medical treatment quickly is a must. It is important for everyone to know the meaning of FAST, and what to do if you see someone displaying symptoms of a stroke.
First, we must know what a stroke is. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to an area of the brain is cut off. The symptoms depend on the region of the brain that is affected by the stroke. These symptoms can include changes in sensation and motor control. Symptoms of a stroke also depend on the amount of brain tissue deprived of blood supply. For example, someone who has had a mild stroke may experience temporary weakness in an arm or leg, but someone who has had a severe stroke may be permanently paralyzed on one side of the body or be unable to speak. If the blood supply is not restored quickly, either on its own or via medical treatment, the effects may be permanent.
Once someone has suffered a stroke, acting FAST is critical. Immediate medical treatment can greatly reduce the risk of long-term effects and can also reduce the risk of death from a stroke. The acronym FAST stands for:
F: Face drooping. Ask the person to smile and see if one side is drooping. One side of the face may also be numb, and the smile may even appear uneven.
A: Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Is there weakness or numbness on one side? One arm drifting downward is a sign of arm weakness.
S: Speech difficulty. People having a stroke may slur their speech or have trouble speaking at all. Speech may be incomprehensible. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and look for speech abnormality.
T: Time to call 9-1-1. If a person is showing any of the symptoms above, even if the symptoms have since gone away, it’s time to call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately.
Are There Other Signs and Symptoms?
The simple answer is yes. While knowing the steps listed out in FAST is important, it’s also helpful to know some of the other signs and symptoms that accompany a stroke. FAST is the hallmark signs and symptoms of a stroke, but a stroke can also cause disruption of any function of the nervous system. Symptoms of stroke typically occur on one side of the body and come on suddenly. Like we stated above, the symptoms of a transient ischemic attack (mini-stroke) the symptoms appear and may go away on their own. In any case, it is very important to get the affected person to a hospital as soon as possible to ensure that they get prompt treatment.
Other possible signs and symptoms of a stroke include the sudden onset of:
- Weakness or paralysis of any part of the body
- Numbness or a “pins and needles” sensation anywhere on the body
- Gait disturbances (trouble walking) or loss of balance or coordination
- Vision changes, blurred vision, or trouble with eyesight in one or both eyes
- Severe headache that is unlike headaches in the past
- Inability to speak, slurred speech, or inability to understand speech
- Loss of sensation in any part of the body
- Memory Loss
- Behavioral Changes
- Muscle Stiffness
- Difficulty Swallowing
- Involuntary eye movements
What Specialties of Doctors Treat Strokes?
A person who has suffered a stroke is typically care for in an emergency department, and initially seen by a specialist in emergency medicine. Doctors that are typically involved in care for stroke patients can include neurologists, endovascular surgical neurology (ESNR) specialists, interventional radiologists (IR), interventional cardiologists (IC), and critical care specialists.
If you or someone you know has suffered a stroke and you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to navigate to the contact us form and reach out or give us a call at your local office. Those numbers are listed below:
- Charleston – (662) 647-0653
- Clarksdale – (662) 624-4141
- Cleveland – (662)756-4676
- Greenwood – (662) 455-3535
- Grenada – (662) 294-0726
- Indianola – (662) 887-1518
At Sunflower Home Health, we truly believe that education and awareness are the keys to making the Mississippi Delta a healthy and safe place to live, something that we are committed to making a reality.