Don’t Miss the Subtle Signs of a Stroke

Don’t Miss the Subtle Warning Signs of Strokes

A stroke occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off. When it does, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin dying. The cells affected by that area of the brain can damage memory and muscle control. How the person is affected afterward depends on the severity of the stroke. People with small strokes may only have minor problems like temporary weakness in their limbs. Those with larger strokes may experience permanent paralysis on one side of their body or lose their ability to speak. Some people recover completely from strokes, but unfortunately, more than 2/3 of survivors will have some form of disability. Strokes can be devastating. It is important to be aware of the signs.

You may have heard of the acronym used to identify when a stroke is happening; F.A.S.T.


Face Drooping

If you notice one side of the face droops or numb, ask the person to smile. If their smile is uneven or lopsided, this could predict a stroke.

Arm Weakness

While we know pain in your left arm points to a heart attack, arm weakness or numbness could mean a stroke. Ask the person experiencing the weakness to raise both of their arms. One arm involuntarily drifting downward is a sign.

Speech Difficult

Watch for slurred speech or the person being unable to speak. If they are hard to understand, ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like, “The sky is blue.” If the person is not able to correctly repeat the words, they may be having a stroke.

Time to call 9-1-1

If someone shows these symptoms, call 9-1-1 and report that you think they are having a stroke. Even if you’re not sure it is a stroke get them to the hospital immediately. Time is of the essence! Inform the emergency responders of the time that you first noticed the symptoms.

Other Symptoms

F.A.S.T. are the most common symptoms of stroke, but there are others. These additional symptoms can appear in combination with F.A.S.T. symptoms or separately. These other symptoms include sudden confusion or misunderstanding of speech. There could be sudden numbness of the face or legs, especially on only one side of the body. If there is sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes. Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

It is always best to be safe rather than sorry. If you think you or someone near you is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, get help immediately. Receiving timely stroke treatment is a critical step to recovery. Immediate treatment may minimize the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. With recent medical advances, stroke treatments, and survival rates have greatly improved over the last decade.

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This Article Was Updated: 04/04/2024.

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