Do you know the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke (cerebrovascular accident)? If a person close to you were to experience such symptoms, would you know how to react?
A stroke is a sudden interruption of blood flow in the brain. Strokes can be caused by a blood clot in an artery (three out of four times) or the rupture of a vessel in the brain, which causes hemorrhaging. The risk of having a stroke increases with age. That is why close to three out of four victims are over 65 years of age. It happens to be the second cause of death and first cause of disability in adults. Although some victims do not experience any after-effects, many who have suffered from a stroke are likely to have some form of disability.
The warning signs of a stroke include the following: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, often only on one side of the body; sudden confusion; trouble speaking; sudden inability to see from one or both eyes; difficulty walking; vertigo; loss of balance or coordination; and a sudden and intense headache without any apparent cause.
A stroke is a medical emergency. People who are afflicted should immediately get to the nearest hospital. Yet, according to an American study conducted with American patients admitted to Emergency Rooms (ER) for a stroke, the majority of whom were not aware that their state required immediate medical attention. In fact, at the beginning of the symptoms, 59% of patients did not think they were suffering from a stroke. More than half the patients also delayed going to the ER. The victims often justified this delay by saying they thought their symptoms would resolve themselves and they did not want to bother medical personnel. These data are incredibly worrisome, because the early treatment of stroke relies on rapid medical intervention. In fact, the faster the person afflicted by a stroke gets to the hospital after the beginning of the symptoms, the greater the chances of minimizing cerebral lesions or avoiding recurrence.
If a person you know suddenly looses the ability to speak, vomits, faints, cannot see or no longer feels part of their body, what should you do? First, you should try to remain as calm as possible and immediately contact emergency services. Then, lay the person in a comfortable position and help them remain calm.
Always remember that it is essential to get to the ER as quickly as possible so that the victim can receive optimal treatments and hopefully increase his or her chance of avoiding permanent disability.