A stroke, also called a cerebrovascular accident, occurs when the brain stops working due to a lack of blood supply. Within minutes, brain cells start to die. A stroke can cause temporary or permanent disabilities or even death, depending on how long the brain lacks blood flow and which part is affected. Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability and the third leading cause of death, killing 160,000 people annually.
Knowing the first signs and symptoms of a stroke is crucial in getting timely medical help. Each minute that a person having a stroke is left untreated about 2 million neurons are lost. This can affect a person’s memory, speech, movement and so much more. There are two main types of strokes.
Two categories of strokes
1. Hemorrhagic Stroke – Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 13% of all strokes. They occur when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain leaks or bursts and spills blood into the brain. This deprives the brain of oxygen and causes it to stop functioning. Hemorrhagic strokes are the most serious type of stroke and can have severe outcomes.
2. Transient Ischemic Attack – Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs) are often called mini-stokes and occur way more frequently than hemorrhagic strokes. The symptoms of TIAs are the same as hemorrhagic strokes but the blood clots or blockages break up by themselves. After a TIA, symptoms will disappear after a short period of time. Transient Ischemic Attacks aren’t life threatening but are a warning sign of a future, more serious stroke. Even after symptoms fade it is important to get immediate medical attention after a TIA to prevent a major stroke.
Most people do not know the signs of a stroke and only 3 to 5 percent of patients make it to the hospital in time for treatment. Recognizing the following symptoms and acting fact to get medical attention can save a life and limit disabilities.
First signs and symptoms of a stroke
The American Stroke Association created a simple acronym to remember when it comes to symptoms of a stroke. Use the letters in “fast” to identify the signs of a stroke. If you have stroke symptoms or see someone else with stroke symptoms, call 911 immediately. The faster you call, the more brain tissue and function you can save.
• F – Face Drooping – Check their face. Has their mouth or face drooped?
• A – Arm Weakness – Can they lift their arms?
• S – Speech Difficulty – Is their speech slurred? Can you understand them and can they understand you?
• T – Time to Call 911 – If you see any of these signs call 911 right away.
Other signs and symptoms of a stroke
• Dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination
• Blurry vision or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes
• Difficulty swallowing
• Numbness or weakness in the face or extremities, especially on one side of the body
• Trouble speaking or understanding
• Severe headache that develops quickly
What to do if you have symptoms of a stroke
If you see someone with the symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately.
Early treatment can help minimize damage to the brain tissue and improve the patient’s outcome. Long-term goals of treatment for stroke include rehabilitation and the prevention of recurrent strokes. Treatment plans vary based on the type and severity of the stroke that occurs. If the stroke or brain bleeding causes damage to the brain, rehabilitation aims to help the patient restore speech, gain strength and relearn skills of daily living.
The certified comprehensive stroke center at OakBend Medical Center has been designated as a Primary Stroke Center by the Texas Department of State Health Services and has received the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Get With The Guidelines™ Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award. OakBend Medical Center offers advanced evaluation and treatment when minutes matter. Call 281-341-3000 now for more information or to schedule a consultation with a Houston Stroke specialist.