Stroke Warning Signs
A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. This can be a result of a blood clot blocking an artery – a blood vessel that delivers blood from the heart to the body, including the brain. A stroke can also be caused if a blood vessel ruptures, causing bleeding into the surrounding brain tissue and decreasing the flow of blood to other parts of the brain. With either event, the brain no longer receives an adequate amount of blood and brain cells suffer, causing eventual brain damage.
Several factors can contribute to the likelihood of a stroke. Some of the most common risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- High blood sugar
- An unhealthy diet
- Excess weight
- Atrial fibrillation
Learn how you can lower your risk of a stroke here.
While strokes can occur from a variety of causes, the symptoms are usually the same. Recognizing the warning signs of a stroke is important so immediate action can be taken.
Warning signs of a stroke can include the sudden onset of:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Difficulty speaking or understanding
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Problems with walking
- Dizziness, loss of balance and coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause
To treat strokes effectively, TPA (tissue plasminogen activator), the only FDA approved clot-busting drug, may be administered to the patient to break up the blood clot in the brain as soon as possible, preferably within the first four and a half hours of symptoms. Some patients, however, do not qualify for TPA and other treatment options will be provided.
It is critical to call 911 if you think you or a loved one are experiencing a stroke. Treatment can begin while you are in the ambulance, as emergency response teams begin vital tests and communication with health care experts before you reach the hospital.