Signs & Symptoms of Stroke

April 11, 2014 Cheryl Smith CPR, Disease Prevention, Heart Health, Men's Health, Women's Health

Stroke is a medical condition effecting the blood vessels or arteries within, or leading into the brain. Stroke happens when one or more of these vessels become blocked, leak, or bursts.  This subsequently leads to tissue damage or death in the affected area of the brain due to lack of oxygen and vital nutrients gained from normal blood supply.  There are two types of stoke: One caused by a blockage due to a clot (Ischemic stroke), the other caused by a leak or rupture within the vessel wall (hemorrhagic stroke).  Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the United States behind Heart Disease and Cancer. If you or someone you know appears to be suffering from symptoms of a stroke it is imperative to call 911 as soon as possible, time is a vital factor in preventing or limiting brain damage, paralysis, or death.


Symptoms commonly found in those suffering from a stroke include

  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, usually effecting one side of the body.
  • Slurred speech, loss of balance, poor coordination
  • Confusion, loss of comprehension and understanding, personality change
  • Rapid or irregular breathing, unequal pupil dilation, pounding pulse
  • Sudden onset of severe headache and sensitivity to sound or light or loss of vision

Though anyone can suffer from a stroke, it is more common in those above the age of 65.  Additional risk factors include: cardiac disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and smoking.  Some patients may suffer from stroke symptoms for a short period of time.  These temporary symptoms may be an indicator of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or a “mini-stroke.” TIA’s are often a warning sign for an impending larger stroke so these symptoms should not be ignored and the person suffering should seek medical attention.

There are a few important standard precautions to take while you and the stoke victim are waiting for EMS to arrive.

  • Monitor the victims’ airway, breathing and circulation. If possible, note the time of stroke and be sure to relay this information to the EMTs
  • If tolerated, try to lay the victim down so his or her head is flat on the ground in order to maximize blood flow to the brain
  • Never give the victim anything to eat or drink. His or her airway may become compromised due to paralysis. This may also lead to complications during surgery if needed.

These will undoubtedly be frightening moments for the stroke patient as loss of normal mental and motor function onset. It is important to provide emotional support in a calm collective manor. Continue to communicate even if his or her ability to respond is limited and never comment on possible long term effects of the episode.  Remember, stroke is a time sensitive medical condition so it’s important to seek medical attention at the first signs or symptoms. In some cases the victim may lose consciousness and pulse, if this should happen it is important to activate the emergency response system and begin quality CPR. Focus on pushing hard and fast on the center of the victims’ chest.

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