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Learn the Signs, Symptoms and Effects of a Stroke

Did you know that every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke?  Though it can happen at any time in a person’s life, the risk of having a stroke increases with age.

Today, we want to talk about what a stroke is, the warning signs of a stroke, and how one of these events could potentially affect your aging loved one.

To begin, a stroke, otherwise known as a “brain attack,” happens when an artery or blood vessel is blocked by a blood clot. This blockage interrupts the steady blood flow to an entire area of the brain. When this happens, the brain cells in that area begin to die and damage occurs.

Learning the warning signs of a stroke can help in getting medical attention sooner rather than later. F.A.S.T is the acronym to keep in mind when looking for stroke symptoms in a person.

  • F– Face drooping. Is one side of the face drooping or numb? One way to tell is to ask the person to smile. Is their smile uneven?
  • A – Arm weakness. Is one of their arms numb or weak? Ask the person to raise both of their arms. After doing so, does one of their arms drift down?
  • S – Is the person unable to speak? Are they slurring their words? Are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a very simple sentence like, “The grass is green.” Do they repeat the sentence correctly?
  • T – Time to call 9-1-1. If a person displays any of these symptoms, they should be taken to the hospital immediately. Also, remember to check the time so you can report when the first symptoms began.

During a stroke, brain cells die and the abilities that are controlled by that area of the brain can be lost. Some of these abilities include memory, movement and speech. When a stroke occurs, how the patient is affected depends largely on which part of the brain it occurred in, and how much of the brain was damaged.

For instance, if a stroke happens on the right side of the brain, the signs and symptoms can be felt on the left side of the body. Conversely, if a stroke occurs on the left side of the brain, it affects the right side of the body.

There are a variety of different strokes that are caused by various factors. Ischemic strokes, in particular, are more common in older people and account for 87 percent of all stroke cases. This type of stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery in the brain. This clot is usually formed in a small blood vessel inside of the brain that becomes narrowed through high blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes or smoking.

The effects of a stroke can vary depending on the severity. Some of the effects include impaired speech or vision, severe weakness or even paralysis of limbs on one side of the body, trouble with swallowing, mood swings, and depression.

Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke can help you act quickly.  Turn to the potential life-saving acronym, F.A.S.T., if a situation should occur with your loved one. If you spot the signs of a stroke, call for help as soon as possible. If emergency treatment begins immediately, the chances of survival are far greater.

Sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm

https://www.strokeassociation.org/en/about-stroke/stroke-symptoms

https://www.stroke.org/

 

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St. Barnabas Health System
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Gibsonia, PA 15044