Early warning signs of a stroke you must know

A stroke is a cerebral vascular accident caused by sudden rupture or blockage in the blood supply of the brain. This is similar to a heart attack as the brain cells, deprived of the oxygen and glucose they need to survive, die off.

Ischemic strokes are caused by blockage in blood vessels that supplies blood to the brain. Ischemic strokes accounts for approximately 87 percent of all strokes. Other strokes are caused by bleeding into brain tissue when a weakened blood vessel supplying blood to the brain bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). When the stroke symptoms last only a short time, this is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke. They can last from a few minutes to several hours and can be a predecessor to a full stroke.

The World Health Organization has revealed that almost 15 million people worldwide suffer a stroke each year. Stroke, statistically speaking, claims a life every 6 seconds worldwide. Timely treatment of stroke is the key to preventing death and disability, but not everyone knows how to promptly recognize the early warning signs of stroke. Stroke signs often occur hours or even days before the concrete attack. Prompt treatment can stave off the pressing perils of a full-blown stroke.

As far as stroke is concerned, the more time that passes, the more damage occurs in the brain. People who get to the hospital within three hours of experiencing their first symptoms or signs are usually the ones with the best outcomes.

How to spot the Early Warning Signs of a Stroke?

The brain has 22 billion neurons; approximately 2 million of them die each minute during a stroke. It is crucial to get help as soon as possible to avoid serious long-term effects. The easiest way to spot a stroke is to make use of the F.A.S.T. mnemonic test to identify the symptoms. FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) is an acronym to help you remember the early signs of a stroke.

A more detailed list includes:

F (Face): face drooping - Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face goes slack? And the smile appears uneven.
A (Arm): One arm will feel weak or numb. When asked to raise both arms, does one arm drift downward?
S (Speech): Slurred, garbled or incomprehensible speech that is difficult to understand.
T (Time): If you observe any of the above symptoms, it's important to call emergency responders or go to the hospital right away, even if symptoms seem to disappear. Make sure to note the time when symptoms started.

The experts also provided some more tips to help you actually to "BE FAST" in detecting the symptoms of stroke:

B – BALANCE: The “B” in “BE FAST” stands for balance. A sudden loss of coordination or balance, such as not being able to walk a straight line or touch a finger to the nose.
E – EYES: Sudden vision changes, such as blindness in one eye, double vision etc.

Other early warning signs of a stroke (which are not gender specific):

Symptoms in the F.A.S.T. test identify most strokes, but occasionally a stroke can cause some less frequent symptoms. No two strokes are the same, and women in particular can experience more subtle signs of stroke that are easy to dismiss or overlook as something else.

1. Hiccups

Maybe you ate too fast and so hiccups — that’s not so scary. But a sudden onset of persistent, painful hiccups can indicate a stroke on the way. Experts associate hiccupping with a specific stroke that occurs in the back of the brain (instead of the top), which is more common in women. But regardless of your gender, take severe hiccups seriously, especially if they’re associated with other stroke symptoms.

2. Severe headache

The location of a headache may be determined by where the stroke is occurring. For instance, Strokes in the vertebrobasilar system, which supplies blood to the back of the brain, may produce a headache at the back of the head. Strokes that occur in the carotid artery (a major artery in the neck that brings blood to the brain) may generate a forehead headache. According to a 2010 study in the Handbook of Clinical Neurology, stroke victims report some sort of headache. In general, if your headache accompanies any of the “FAST” signs, it could be a stroke.

3. Confusion

People often slip-up confusion for nothing more than a “senior moment,” which is why it often doesn’t cause any doubt. But, if you experience confusion along with any other stroke symptoms, seek medical attention. Researchers consider this could be resultant of a posterior circulation stroke, which could target areas responsible for personality and memory. However, the frontal lobe is also associated to personality, so behavior changes maybe also due to a frontal lobe stroke.

4. Difficulty swallowing

A swallowing disorder called dysphagia often occurs as a result of stroke, but it can also happen beforehand. Throat paralysis is generally temporary, but don’t wait too long to get help.

5. Agitated behavior

Your frustration could signify more than just a bad mood. It’s a common “non-traditional” symptom and doctors call it an “altered mental status.” Agitation may include emotional changes such as fear or anger. It can also include physical aggression.

6. Stroke-related eye conditions

Eye conditions are often one of the earliest signs of a stroke. Vision problems are more common when you suffer a stroke affecting the right side of your brain. Some of the main visual problems include visual field loss (hemianopia) and eye muscles, nerve problems (blurred vision and diplopia) and Vision processing problems.

Dr. Sai Sudarsan is a well renowned and multifaceted personality in the field of neurology. He is a senior consultant in neurosurgery at Star Hospital, Hyderabad which is one of the best hospitals for brain stroke treatment in India, with a very good experience in neuroendoscopy, micro neurosurgery, spinal instrumentation and stereotaxy. He also got trained in endovascular neurosurgery and considered as one of the best for stroke treatments Hyderabad. He is a pioneer in neurology and neurosurgery with a wealth of experience in handling different neurological cases successfully, over the years and is also one of the most acclaimed names in brain stroke treatment Hyderabad.

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