Signs and symptoms of stroke

Stroke can be efficiently treated with few or no consequences, when treated promptly.

Stroke is the lack of oxygen to the brain. It happens when an artery is blocked by a clot o when hemorrhage occurs due to high blood pressure. These are the top five signs and symptoms of stroke.

1.- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg: This sign is characteristic and ussually appears on one side of the body.  You can ask the person to smile and see if one side drops. The person may have difficulty moving his/her arm or controlling his/her fingers. Ask the patient to close his/her eyes and raise both arms to see if one of them drifts downward.

2.- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding: It is common that a person having a stroke may suddenly begin slurring his speech or have trouble speaking. Try asking the patient  to repeat a simple sentence, such as «I went to the library yesterday.» If he/she has difficulty speaking correctly, he/she migth be having a stroke.

3.- Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes: If a patient refers sudden vision problems this could be another common stroke symptom that should be of concern.  He/she may complain of blurry or double vision.

4.- Sudden dizziness, difficulty walking, loss of balance or coordination: Check if the patient walks as if intoxicated, stumbles, or even falls down.  These are all stroke symptoms and should be of concern.

5.- Severe sudden headache with no known cause: A patient with a headache is not necessarily having a stroke. But if a headache strikes unexpectedly or seems unusually intense, it’s reason for concern. If a stiff neck, facial pain, or vomiting accompanies the headache, the cause could be an intracranial hemorrhage.

US statistics from the American Heart Association, suggest that a stroke occurs every 45 seconds. But not all is bad: Even if you or someone you know suffers a stroke, immediate treatment can greatly reduce the damage to the brain. For many strokes, treatment with intravenous clot-busting drugs can make a significant difference. But it has been demonstrated that these drugs need to be administered within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms to offer the greatest benefits. So, the sooner treatment starts, the better the outcome.

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