What is a stroke?
A stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel to the brain (ischemic stroke), or when a blood vessel ruptures in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
Ischemic strokes are further broken down based upon where the blood clot originated.When a clot forms elsewhere in the body, smaller pieces can break off and travel through the bloodstream where they can get stuck in the tiny vessels of the brain. This kind of travelling blood clot is called an “embolus;” thusly, this type of stroke is called an embolic stroke. Arteries supplying the brain with blood can become blocked by a clot formed locally (thrombus) or by a buildup of fatty deposits (cholesterol).
Hemorrhages can be caused my any number or combination of factors, including trauma, weaknesses in the vessels, high blood pressure, and disease.
While more likely to occur to older adults, strokes can happen to anyone if the above factors are present!
Signs & Symptoms
Facial droop (asymmetrical) noticable around eyes, cheek, and mouth
Arm drift (asymmetrical)
Speech is slurred or confused
Tongue drifts to one side
Numbness, tingling, or weakness in the face or limbs, often along one side of the entire body
Sudden trouble speaking or understanding
Sudden changes in vision
Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination
Sudden severe headache
Act F-A-S-T if you suspect a stroke!
Face – Check for facial droop. Do a “smile test” (ask the person to smile for you) and check for asymmetry.
Arms – Have the person close their eyes and hold their arms out in front of them palms up. Note if one arms drifts down. (We ask people to close their eyes so they don’t panic and so that they don’t auto-correct.)
Speech – Have the person repeat a sentence after you. The Boston Stroke Scale uses “The sky is blue in Boston.” It has a good amount of mechanical complexity.
* Tongue – Have the person stick out their tongue and note if it drifts to one side. (New!)
Time – Time to call 911!
Time is of the essence when treating strokes. The #1 question doctors need to know is WHEN did the symptoms first appear. There are drugs that can be administered but are only effective within a “golden” window of 3 hours.
Everyone should learn to act FAST.
Have you ever had to act quickly in an emergency?
What advice would you give others?