A stroke is a medical emergency that affects thousands of people in the United States every year. Although they may occur at any point in life, aging adults are at greater risk. It’s important to know the signs of a stroke and what to do if you or a loved one’s cognitive health is affected. Being better prepared can ensure help is received as soon as possible. Learn more about the signs, symptoms, and effects of a stroke from St. Barnabas.

What Is a Stroke?

Many strokes occur when an artery or blood vessel becomes blocked or narrowed and interrupts blood flow to the brain, or when a broken blood vessel causes bleeding in the brain. Depending on the area affected and the severity of the stroke, this condition may affect you or your loved one in several ways, causing any of the following symptoms:

  • Impaired speech or vision
  • Limb weakness or paralysis
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Memory issues

Strokes can cause lasting tissue damage and lead to long-term disability. However, brain cells may be able to recover if they’re without oxygen for only a short amount of time. This is why receiving help as soon as possible is so important.

Warning Signs of a Stroke

When it comes to stroke care, every moment counts. Keeping the acronym F.A.S.T. in mind is a great way to memorize symptoms so that you can recognize them right away. F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • F – Face drooping: This is when one side of the face appears to be drooping or numb. Try asking the person to smile – if it’s uneven, they may be having a stroke.
  • A – Arm weakness: You can tell if a person’s arms are numb or weak by asking them to raise both of their arms. If one arm drifts lower than the other, this could be a warning sign.
  • S – Speech: If a person is having trouble speaking clearly or begins to slur their words, this could indicate a stroke. Try having the person repeat simple sentences.
  • T – Time to call 911: If you find that the person isn’t responding well to the previous steps, call 911 immediately.

A stroke may impact overall wellbeing and quality of life. If a stroke occurs on the right side of the brain, signs present on the left side of the body. The same goes for the other side – if the left side of the brain was damaged, the right side of the body is affected.

Recovering From a Stroke

As with heart disease and other conditions, prevention can play a significant role in your overall health. However, if you or a loved one has recently experienced a stroke, please know that help is available during recovery and beyond. There are several services for those recovering from a stroke, including specialized programs for individuals experiencing memory loss and outpatient therapy for physical rehabilitation at St. Barnabas.

Offering a comfortable and caring-centered approach to care, we are here to help you or your loved one every step of the way. Serving the Greater Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, including, Allegheny, Beaver, and Butler counties, we invite you to contact St. Barnabas Health System for more information.

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