Symptoms of a stroke
The main symptoms of stroke can be remembered with the word FAST:
- Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped.
- Arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in 1 arm.
- Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.
- Time – it's time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
Causes of a stroke
Like all organs, the brain needs the oxygen and nutrients provided by blood to function properly.
If the supply of blood is restricted or stopped, brain cells begin to die. This can lead to brain injury, disability and possibly death.
There are 2 main causes of strokes:
- ischaemic – where the blood supply is stopped because of a blood clot, accounting for 85% of all cases
- haemorrhagic – where a weakened blood vessel supplying the brain bursts
There's also a related condition called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), where the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted.
This causes what's known as a mini-stroke. It can last a few minutes or persist up to 24 hours.
TIAs should be treated urgently, as they're often a warning sign you're at risk of having a full stroke in the near future.
Get medical advice as soon as possible, even if your symptoms get better.
Certain conditions increase the risk of having a stroke, including:
- high blood pressure (hypertension)
- high cholesterol
- irregular heart beats (atrial fibrillation)
Treating a stroke
Treatment depends on the type of stroke you have, including which part of the brain was affected and what caused it.
Strokes are usually treated with medicine. This includes medicines to prevent and dissolve blood clots, reduce blood pressure and reduce cholesterol levels.
In some cases, procedures may be required to remove blood clots. Surgery may also be needed to treat brain swelling and reduce the risk of further bleeding if this was the cause of your stroke.
Common symptoms of a stroke include your face dropping on 1 side, not being able to lift your arms and slurred speech.
A stroke can be caused by either a blood clot in the brain or bleeding in the brain.
A stroke needs to be treated in hospital as soon as possible. Treatments include medicines to treat blood clots and sometimes brain surgery.
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