By: Siddharth Sehgal, MD
Because brain cells die every second once stroke occurs and can never be recovered, time is everything for the stroke victim. Acting fast is critical to ensuring proper treatment as quickly as possible, and early intervention vastly improves the quality of life stroke victims experience both during and after recovery. Knowing what to look for can mean immediate care for your loved one.
Use the following acronym to remember the warning signs of a stroke:
F – FACE: Facial droop, sudden numbness/tingling and blurred vision are all warning signs of stroke. If possible, ask the person to smile and check to see if one side hangs lower. Their smile may appear to be crooked.
A – ARM: Sudden weakness, numbness or tingling of the arm might be present with stroke. If possible, ask the person to hold both arms out, close their eyes, and check for drifting of one arm.
S – SPEECH: Check for sudden slurred or garbled speech. If possible, ask the person to repeat a sentence and listen for changes in speech or the inability to follow this command.
T – TIME: Call 911 immediately! Stroke is a medical emergency. It is important to seek medical care, preferably at a center certified in stroke care, as soon as possible. Studies show that stroke patients who arrive at the hospital by ambulance receive quicker treatment than those who arrive by their own means.
The good news is 80 percent of all strokes can be prevented. While some risk factors like age and sex are inevitable (women are at a higher risk than men), most can be avoided or reduced through healthy living. Common risk factors for stroke include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, excessive alcohol consumptions, being overweight and physical inactivity. Making positive lifestyle changes can greatly reduce these risk factors and your chance of experiencing a stroke.