A stroke is an event that happens in the brain. Blood flow is blocked or stopped in a particular area. The brain loses access to oxygen and nutrients. Strokes are one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States. A stroke can result in permanent disability in about 2/3 of cases. Blood clots or hemorrhage can cause the blood flow interruption. During a stroke, brain cells die. This starts to happen in just minutes.
Immediate medical care is essential for the best outcome. The sooner the patient is assessed and treated, the less likelihood there is of complications.
Trouble speaking or understanding others
Weakness or paralysis
Numbness in the face, arms, and/or legs
Dizziness and/or loss of body coordination
Vision disturbances in one or both eyes
The EMS workers will know if there’s a stroke center nearby. They will collect important information on the way and alert hospital staff. This way treatment can be started immediately upon the patient’s arrival.
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of immediate care.
Remember this acronym and you can save a life.
Balance—Is the person having trouble standing or balancing themselves?
Eyesight—Is vision affected? Is there a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
Face—If the person smiles, does half of the smile droop? Is one side of the face sagging?
Arms—Ask them to lift both arms up. Are they unable to lift an arm, or does one arm drop?
Speech—Is speech slow, slurred, or confused?
Time-There’s no time to waste if any of the five above conditions are present. Immediately call 911.
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle, and keeping medical problems under control, will reduce your risk.
Leading a sedentary lifestyle
Smoking or breathing in secondhand smoke
Drinking too much
Using illegal drugs
High blood pressure
Some risk factors simply can’t be controlled such as the history of a prior stroke. An individual is at a higher risk for having a second stroke if they already had one.
Having a family history of stroke
Being over age 55
Prior stroke, TIA, or heart attack
Being African American
With early intervention, a complete recovery may be possible. The development of complications depends on many factors such as type of event and duration of attack. Some complications include:
Paralysis on one side of the body
Inability to talk or understand speech
Depression or emotional withdrawal
Pain or numbness in parts of the body
Depending upon the hospital evaluation, medication or surgery may be needed.
Clot-busting medications can be very effective if given within 3 hours of onset. These medications aren’t useful in all cases.Many patients will need some form of rehabilitation to ensure an optimal recovery.
Hospital social workers can help you find services and at-home support.The patient also needs to learn the necessary steps to prevent another event from occurring.
Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke. Blood clots are often the cause of a blockage of blood flow through the artery that supplies oxygen-rich blood to the brain.
Stroke is a medical emergency which requires prompt attention. When patients are able to get to the hospital fast enough, a medication can be given to break up the clot and minimize long term disability. The longer you wait, the greater the damage.