A stroke occurs when your blood supply to the brain is cut off. Without immediate medical attention, the outcome can be devastating. That’s why it’s vital to know stroke warning signs so you can get help for yourself, a loved one or a stranger quickly.
Know the Warning Signs
According to the American Heart Association, using the acronym F.A.S.T. can help people remember warning signs of a stroke:
- Face drooping — one side of a stroke victim’s face may droop or feel numb. An uneven smile can be a sign that something is very wrong.
- Arm weakness — one arm may be weak or numb. Ask the person to raise his or her arms. If one drifts down, it could be a sign of a stroke.
- Speech difficulty — a person experiencing a stroke may have trouble speaking. Have the person say a simple sentence like, “I like ice cream.” Note if the sentence is repeated correctly or if the person has difficulty.
- Time to call 911 — if a person shows any of these symptoms, you should call 911. Even if the symptoms go away, the person needs to be evaluated by a doctor. Be sure to note the time so you’ll be able to tell emergency responders when symptoms first occurred.
Other Warning Signs of Stroke
Along with a drooping face, arm weakness and slurred speech, other signs of a stroke may include:
- A sudden, severe headache with no apparent cause
- Trouble walking or balancing that comes on suddenly
- Sudden confusion or understanding speech
- Numbness or weakness in the leg or arm, especially on one side of the body
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes that comes on suddenly
Stroke vs. Heart Attack
Stroke and heart attack are both medical emergencies but the warning signs are quite different. Dizziness is the only symptom common to both emergencies. Warning signs for a heart attack include:
- Pain or pressure in the chest, neck, jaw, back or arm
- Pain in the upper abdomen
- Cold sweat
Symptoms of a heart attack may be a little different in women. Women are more likely to feel heavy pressure, fullness or squeezing in the center of the chest. It may last a few minutes before going away and coming back. Women are also more likely to experience nausea, back and jaw pain and shortness of breath during a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. Stroke warning signs are the same for either gender.
Get Help Quickly
While there are many reasons why a stroke may occur, it’s vital to get help fast. According to the American Heart Association, even a 15-minute delay in receiving stroke-stopping medication can take away a month of healthy life. So don’t wait if you think someone is experiencing a stroke; call 911 immediately.
Advice or recommendations are for informational or educational purposes only, not a substitute for a visit or consultation with your doctor.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee members can access wellness-related discounts on fitness products, gym memberships, healthy eating and more through Blue365®. BCBST members can also use tools and resources to help improve health and well-being by logging into BlueAccess and going to the in the Member Wellness Center under the Managing Your Health tab.