Updated: May 26
When the blood flow to your brain is interrupted, it is a medical emergency known as a stroke. When the flow of blood to your brain is stopped the time it takes to get medical treatment is critical. As many neurologists will tell you, “Time is brain”. What this means is anytime the flow of blood to your brain is interrupted, the damage is occurring and prompt medical treatment at a hospital is needed. The sooner you can get medical treatment, the more likely you are to have a better outcome.
We usually think of stroke as a blood clot stopping the flow of blood in your brain. This is, in fact, the most common type of stroke called an ischemic stroke. According to the American Heart Association, 87% of stokes are estimated to be ischemic. There are three main types of stokes and all are considered medical emergencies.
Another type of stoke is a hemorrhagic stroke. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures in your head. This can be caused by an aneurysm, an arteriovenous malformation, or a weakened small blood vessel caused by very high blood pressure.
Lastly, a transient ischemic attack or TIA is also called a mini-stroke or a warning stroke. TIA’s are caused by a temporary blood clot that lasts for a shorter period of time. They are usually a warning sign that something is going on and a full ischemic stroke is likely if treatment is not sought.
Our brains are complex and affect all parts of our body including movement, speech, learning, and so much more. When the blood flow to your brain is stopped either by a clot or a bleed it is vital to your outcome to get medical treatment immediately. So how can you tell if someone is having a stroke? The American Stroke Association has set the following guidelines to help everyone recognize the common symptoms of a stroke.
What are some symptoms of a stroke?
Remember this acronym to help determine if someone is having a stroke: F.A.S.T.
Face- Does one side of the person’s face appear to be drooping? Ask the person to smile- does one side of their mouth drop down?
Arm- Is one arm weak? Ask the person to raise both arms- does one arm drop down?
Speech- Is it slurred or difficult to understand?
Time- Call 9-1-1- immediately. Time is brain! If you or someone you are with experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.
While these are the most common symptoms, it should also be noted that if someone complains of the worst headache of their life, has sudden confusion, trouble walking, or sudden problems with coordination they can also be signs of a stroke and immediate medical attention is needed. Remember, stroke is a medical emergency and the sooner you can get help, the more you improve the chances for a better outcome.