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What is Stroke and what to do if you are experiencing one?

Updated: Mar 29, 2023


A senior person listening to his doctor talk

A stroke is a medical emergency that occurs when the brain’s blood supply is interrupted or reduced, causing damage to the brain. Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke and it affects people of all ages, from children to adults. It can be difficult to recognize the signs of a stroke and even more challenging to know how to help someone who has had a stroke. In this blog, we will discuss what a stroke is, the signs and symptoms of a stroke, and how you can help if you suspect someone is having one.


What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when an artery that supplies blood to the brain becomes blocked or bursts due to plaque buildup, depriving the brain of oxygen-rich blood. A lack of oxygen causes neurons in the brain to die, leading to permanent disability or death if not treated quickly. There are two types of strokes—ischemic and hemorrhagic—which occur due to different causes. Ischemic strokes are caused by blocked arteries while hemorrhagic strokes occur when weakened vessels rupture or leak blood into the brain tissue.


Signs & Symptoms of Stroke

The most common signs and symptoms of stroke include sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech, vision problems such as blurred vision or double vision, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness, difficulty walking, severe headache with no known cause. It's important to remember that these symptoms may come on suddenly and without warning so it's important to be alert for them in yourself and others around you.


How Can You Help?

If you suspect someone is having a stroke it's important that they get medical attention as soon as possible. The faster they receive treatment for their stroke, the better their chances for recovery will be. To determine if someone is having a stroke quickly ask them simple questions like "what day is it?" or "what year is it?". If they can't answer those questions then call 911 immediately as they may be experiencing an acute stroke event. Additionally, stay with them until help arrives so that you can provide information about their condition such as any medications they are taking which may be relevant to treatment decisions made by doctors at the hospital.


Conclusion

No matter your age or health status anyone can have a stroke at any time so it’s important to know what signs and symptoms look like so you are able to recognize them quickly should they occur in yourself or someone else around you. Additionally, knowing what steps you should take if you suspect someone is having a stroke can make all the difference in helping them get timely medical attention, which could save their life! Remember to stay alert for changes in behavior that may indicate a medical emergency such as numbness on one side of the body confusion trouble speaking etc., then call 911 immediately!


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