How Do You Know If Someone Is Having A Stroke?

Time is of the essence when a stroke occurs. Here are the signs to look for.

When someone has a stroke, recovery can be greatly impacted by how quickly medical treatment is received. Knowing what the symptoms of stroke look like can help you determine when someone needs help.

How can you tell if someone may be having a stroke?

Remember the words BE FAST! This acronym was created by the National Stroke Association to identify the warning signs of stroke:

B - BALANCE LOSS: Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?

E - EYE SIGHT CHANGES: Is the person experiencing sudden blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes without pain?

F - FACIAL DROOPING: Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face drooping or hard to move?

A - ARM WEAKNESS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?

S - SPEECH DIFFICULTIES: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Do you notice slurred speech or trouble forming words?

T - TIME: Time lost is brain lost. If you notice any of the above symptoms, call 911 right away.

Other symptoms of stroke include a sudden severe headache with no known cause, sudden numbness on one side of the body, trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, and arm or leg weakness. If something seems "off" with someone and you suspect it's due to a stroke, call 911 immediately.

According to the National Stroke Association, 87% of all strokes are ischemic, which means that the stroke is due to an obstruction within a vessel supplying blood to the brain, such as a blood clot. If people with ischemic strokes get to the hospital quickly enough, a clot-busting drug known as tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) may improve chances of recovery.

It's a race against the clock to administer tPA in time to improve stroke outcomes, which is why it's so important that a person having a stroke get to the hospital as quickly as possible. The drug helps restore blood flow to the brain by dissolving the blood clot causing the stroke, but there is a limited window of time when tPA can be used.

For maximum effectiveness, tPA should be given within three hours of when a stroke starts. In some cases, the drug may be given up to 4.5 hours from stroke symptom onset. But the sooner a person is treated, the better the odds of recovery. The most important factor in the successful treatment of stroke is getting treatment as quickly as possible.

If you suspect a stroke, always call 911. Remember, it's important to act FAST.

If you experience a life-threatening emergency, dial 9-1-1. The Sidney Health Center Emergency Department is staffed by medical personnel trained in emergency care including a team of board-certified physicians, nurses, hospital personnel and EMTs, who provide emergency services 24/7. The Emergency Department is available to treat major and minor illnesses and injuries. To access emergency care, use the emergency entrance located on 12th Ave. SW, Sidney.

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