When blood flow gets interrupted to the brain, the brain cells become deprived of oxygen. This is when stroke happens. And stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States with so knowing its warning signs and symptoms is of great importance, especially because the key to surviving it with minimal damage is going to the doctor as soon as possible. The fact that every 4 minutes someone will die from a stroke is scary, but knowing that 80% of these deaths are preventable is encouraging. There are many things you can do for lowering your risk of a stroke, like loosing weight, exercising, drinking less alcohol, adapting to a diet with less sodium etc.
We can call the stroke a “brain attack” as it is actually a sudden loss of brain activity. There are two types of strokes – an ischemic stroke which is an interruption of blood flow to the brain as a result of a blood clot and hemorrhagic stroke is the result of bleeding or a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain. The sign and symptoms vary and they can be different in men and women, but there is one general rule you should remember – if you experience any of them call 911 immediately! You can easily remember the 3 most common symptoms by remembering the word F.A.S.T (F is for Face Dropping, A is for Arm Weakness, S is for Speech Difficulty and T is for Time to call 911). However, there are many other symptoms to look for. We are breaking down the 10 stroke warning signs and symptoms everyone should know in order to spread awareness and in hope they will help someone save their life. Take a good look and remember each of them…
1. Trouble Seeing
Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes can be a sign that you are experiencing a stroke. Although this is not the most common and well known stroke symptoms, it is definitely one you should know. You may suddenly have blurred or even blackened vision in one or both of your eyes. You may also see double. Many people who have had a stroke explain that there was a period before the actual stroke when they have trouble seeing or seeing clearly.
2. Loss of Balance
Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance and coordination as well as not being able to touch your nose are all some of the most common signs that you might be having a stroke. These symptoms are very often confused with other conditions. However, everyone should be aware that they are often one of the signs that a person is heading to a stroke.
3. Difficulty Speaking
One of the most common stroke symptoms is difficulty speaking. If you are slurring words or simply using the wrong words there’s a 72% chance you have had a stroke. It is also possible to not be able to understand what others are speaking or even being unable to speak at all. This is all because stroke can impair the ability to express yourself or understand speech and can happen even if you are experiencing a minor stroke.
4. Weakness in arm or leg
We already know that stroke usually affects only one side of the body and often a weakness appears in the opposite side. This can be manifested as a weakness or numbness in the arm or leg or even paralysis. There is an easy test to check if this is happening to you – just extend your arms with palms up for 10 seconds. If one of your arms drifts downwards, it usually means you are having a stroke. Do this with your legs as well by lifting each of them separately with your eyes open.
5. Sudden Pain
Pain is not often connected to stroke, but it is good to know that in some cases a sudden pain in an arm, a leg or one side of your face or chest appears. This is especially common in women who usually experience non-traditional stroke symptoms 62% more often than men.
6. Sudden Headache
If you are suddenly experiencing “the worst headache in your life” you may be having a stroke. Very strong headache is usually a sign of a stroke in younger people, women and people who have migraines. So if you have a strong headache accompanied with some other stroke symptom, make sure you request a neurology consult or brain MRI in the emergency room.
7. Facial Weakness
If you experience sudden face weakness, with only one side of face affected, you are probably having a stroke. The face droops or goes totally numb so the face appears non symmetrical when they try to talk or smile. This is one of the most common symptoms of a stroke. The doctors will surely ask you to smile or show your teeth and if one side of your face doesn’t move then you are having a stroke.
8. Mental Changes
This symptom is especially common in women, according to a new study of gender differences in ischemic stroke. What happens is that you start to feel a general weakness, disorientation, and change in mental status. In fact, any sudden change of your mental status should be reported to your doctor.
9. Fatigue and Confusion
Fatigue or confusion can appear weeks before the actual stroke so they are an important sign that something is happening in your body. This symptoms appear all of a sudden, with no logical explanation. Usually people affected by these symptoms have difficulty understanding and feel general weakness. Fatigue is also one of the most common consequences after a stroke.
10. Sudden Hiccups
Let’s be clear – hiccups are rarely a sign of something serious, they are just a minor nuisance. But you should know that in some cases they can be a sign of a stroke, especially of combined with some other of the symptoms we have listed above. What happens is when the stroke affects the brain’s breathing center, it can trigger a sudden, protracted case of hiccups.