Stroke, the third leading cause of death in the United States, happens when your brain’s blood supply is interrupted or reduced significantly. Blood carries oxygen and food to brain tissue. When the brain is deprived of this, brain cells can begin to die within minutes of the interrupted/reduced blood supply.
Symptoms of a stroke. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, there are five distinct symptoms of a stroke. Each of these symptoms will appear suddenly.
- Confusion, difficulty speaking and/or understanding speech
- Difficulty walking, including dizziness and loss of balance or coordination
- Numbness and/or weakness in the arm, face or leg, specifically on one side
- Severe headache that appears for no reason and possible nausea and vomiting
- Vision problems, including blackened or blurred vision and/or seeing double images
Get help FAST. If you suspect someone is suffering from a stroke, you can help. The National Stroke Association urges you to “note the time when any symptoms first appear” and to act FAST. Use the word FAST to check for common stroke symptoms:
- F stands for “face.” Check the person’s face. Does one side appear to droop? Ask him to smile. Does the smile droop on one side? If it does, it could be a stroke.
- A stands for “arms.” Have her raise both arms over the head at the same time. Does one drift down? If one does, it could signify a stroke.
- S stands for “speech.” Is his speech slurred? Is he having trouble finding the right words to express his thoughts? Ask him to repeat a simple sentence. If he can’t, it may be a stroke.
- T stands for “time.” Time is important when anyone shows symptoms of a stroke. If you see someone with any signs of stroke, immediately call 911.
What else you can do. Other ways to help a person experiencing a stroke include administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if breathing ceases. In addition, keep the person from eating or drinking and be sure to prevent choking by turning their head to the side if vomiting occurs.