Dr. Barbara Huggins

Stroke Warning Signs

October 12, 2006

Stroke Warning Signs -  October 12, 2006Just as we seek prompt medical attention for a heart attack, we should think of a stroke as a brain attack. It can affect anyone, at any age, at any time. Dr. Mom has some information that can make the difference between life and death for you or someone you know.

What is Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is cut off (an ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel bursts (a hemorrhagic stroke). Most strokes are of the ischemic type. Without oxygen, brain cells begin to die. Death or permanent disability can result. High blood pressure, smoking, and having had a previous stroke or heart attack increase a person's chances of having a stroke.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United Sates. In 2002, stroke killed 162,672 people, accounting for about 1 of every 15 deaths in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, about 700,000 people in the United States suffer a stroke each year (about 500,000 first attacks and 200,000 recurrent attacks). Four million Americans who have survived a stroke are living with impairments and 15 to 30 percent are permanently disabled. The American Heart Association also estimates that stroke cost about $68 billion in both direct and indirect costs in 2005 in the United States alone.

Signs of a Stroke

If you think someone is having a stroke, you should call 911 immediately.

With timely treatment, the risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered. It is very important to know the symptoms of a stroke and act in time.

To help you remember the early symptoms of stroke and what to do, The American College of Emergency Physicians recommends using the acronym FAST:
  • F is for Face: weakness or a drooping, crooked smile; sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • A is for Arm: weak or drooping, numbness or tingling
  • S is for Speech: slurred speech, or the inability to understand or be understood, inability to speak at all
  • T is for Time: call 911 if you're having any of the above symptoms

If you are having a stroke, you may not be able to communicate what is happening in order to get help. Therefore, it is essential that everyone recognize the symptoms of stroke. If someone near you is experiencing stroke symptoms, call 911 or your local Emergency Medical Services number FAST. You could just save a life.

For additional information on stroke:

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