A stroke occurs when there is a blockage in a blood vessel in the brain or a blood vessel in the brain bursts. As a result of either of those occurrences, the area in the brain around the blockage or hemorrhage can’t function. A stroke is a medical emergency and should be cared for with urgency and caution. Common symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden vision changes, especially in one eye
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Severe headache without a known cause
  • Suddenly feeling dizzy or off-balanced
  • The inability to understand or formulate speech

A common mnemonic to aid in remembering the warning signs of a stroke is FAST:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile and look to see if one side of the lips is drooping
  • Arms: When the person’s arms are raised, look to see if one side drifts downward
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Listen if he or she slurs words or has trouble with pronunciation
  • Time: If the person is having a stroke, time is of the essence. Call 911 or seek medical assistance immediately

Risk factors for a stroke include high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, atrial fibrillation, and a previous stroke. Stroke is the second leading cause of death worldwide. Treatment after a stroke includes speech, physical, and occupational therapy.



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