Brain and Nervous System

Use Your Mind to Save Another's: Learn the Stroke Warning Signs

Superheroes are all the rage these days, and while the protagonists on the silver screen save lives by fighting supervillains or terrorists, you can also be a hero in your own small way. Simply put, know the stroke warning signs.

Someone who is having a stroke often can't express what is happening to them. That's where you come in. When you see someone exhibiting certain symptoms, you want to able to act without hesitation and make sure that person receives emergency treatment as soon as possible. Every minute you save will preserve brain cells and improve their chances of recovery. It only takes a bit of education to form the needed recognition for making a snap decision that could save a loved one's life.

Stroke Signs

"Sudden" is a key word to keep in mind, because stroke warning signs materialize quickly. Watch out for:

  • Paralysis, numbness, or weakness of the arms, legs, and face. A stroke generally affects only one side of the body.
  • Dizziness and a lack of coordination or balance.
  • Problems speaking or understanding people.
  • Blurred vision in one or both eyes.
  • A severe headache that's not associated with another health problem.

Women suffer some unique symptoms that may not be as widely recognized. Keep an eye out for these, especially when they appear in combination with one or more of the above symptoms:

  • Nausea/vomiting.
  • Hallucination.
  • Seizures.
  • Hiccups.

The Warning Stroke

Another type of stroke is the ministroke, also known as a warning stroke. In a ministroke, similar to the major stroke, a clot temporarily blocks oxygen to the brain, but it goes away on its own. However, about a third of people who suffer this transient ischemic attack (TIA) experience a full-blown stroke within a year.

A warning stroke has the same symptoms of a major stroke but usually lasts only a few minutes to an hour before fading away. Do not ignore it! A ministroke is just as much a reason to call 911 as a regular stroke.

Every Minute Counts

A stroke needs treatment ASAP! With every minute that ticks by, strokes cause the loss of millions of brain cells that affect movement, memory, and speech. Speedy treatment to restart blood flow to the brain enhances the chance of recovery and reduces long-term damage. The most effective treatments need to be administered within three hours of the first symptoms.

Even though time is of the essence, do not drive the potential stroke victim to the hospital. Call 911 immediately, and never wait more than five minutes to make that call. Trained emergency personnel will begin treating the patient on the way to the hospital.

You can be a hero, and there's no cape required. All the information you need to save a life is right here. Learning how to react to stroke warning signs could make a gigantic difference for a relative, friend, neighbor, or co-worker. You never know if or when you'll need to act on this knowledge, but by being properly educated, you'll be ready to move quickly and decisively.

Posted in Brain and Nervous System

Randy Gerber writes on health topics for print and online blogs in an effort to help people enhance their quality of life and improve the patient experience. Randy has worked on and written about national, local, and personal health care issues for 25 years. Also, he's married to an OB/GYN, which leads to lively dinner conversations.

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*This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute health care advice. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or physician before making health care decisions.