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Strokes can be fatal. Everyone who is over a certain age or has an elderly parent, relative, or friend knows this. Significantly, even when strokes are not fatal, the damage they can cause to a person’s brain can be reduced with prompt treatment.

Since every second counts when a person you love is having a stroke, you should know the signs and symptoms by heart. Knowing these tell-tale signs could help you react more quickly to save yourself or someone you love from irreparable mental damage caused by an untreated stroke.

Major warning signs

In both men and women, the initial warning signs for a stroke are similar. They involve issues with balance and sensation due to how a stroke impacts the brain’s blood supply. These symptoms are sudden and should not be confused with chronic conditions. However, even if the person suffers from another condition, changes in these areas should be addressed promptly.

  1. Numbness in the face or appendages and especially on only one side of the body
  2. Difficulty seeing in either or both eyes
  3. Dizziness or loss of balance, such as having trouble walking or performing basic movements
  4. Confusion, which could be indicated by speech issues or a lack of comprehension
  5. Headaches when they are sudden, severe, and seemingly unmotivated

What to do when you suspect a stroke

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Whether you notice these symptoms appearing suddenly in yourself or a loved one, acting fast is the key to minimizing the damage of a potential stroke. “F.A.S.T.” is an acronym used to help people remember what to do in case of a stroke. You must act promptly so that diagnosis and treatment can reach the person when they are most effective, which is within 3 hours of onset.

F.A.S.T. stands for Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. F.A.S.T. should be applied in situations where you suspect a stroke by doing the following:

With FACE, you should smile or ask your loved one to smile to see if one side of their face sags. For ARMS, raise both of your arms or ask your loved one to do so to see if one arm drifts or sags. For SPEECH, say something or ask your loved one to say a simple sentence to check if the speech sounds uncoordinated, slurred, or unintelligible.

Finally, TIME indicates that when you notice any of the above symptoms, every second counts. Call 9-1-1 immediately, explain that a stroke is involved, and request an ambulance. Don’t drive yourself to a hospital as every minute wasted could result in irreparable brain damage.

The Takeaway

Strokes can not only be fatal, but they can cause irreparable brain damage if treatment is delayed. Since time is of the essence when someone is having a stroke, recognizing these warning signs early is essential. The F.A.S.T. test provides a simple way to remember how to check to see if the telling symptoms indicate a stroke or something else. By performing this test quickly, the most tragic consequences of an untreated stroke could be avoided.

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