Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke, with 610,000 of those being first time strokes.
This means that someone in the United States has a stroke every 40 seconds. Strokes are common – and the aftermath can be severe. But knowing how to properly identify them, and what to do in the following months, can prevent irreversible damage. That’s why below, we’re looking at what a stroke is, and what the signs are.
What Is a Stroke?
A stroke is a specific type of vascular-traumatic brain injury. Typically, your blood carries necessary oxygen and nutrients to the brain – but when a stroke occurs, the brain is left for a period without any blood to nurture it.
The longer a brain is left without blood flow, the more brain cells die – roughly 1.9 million per minute. This kind of decay is why two-thirds of stroke patients develop some form of post-stroke impairment or cognitive decline.
What Are The Signs of a Stroke?
Knowing the signs of a stroke ensures that you can quickly identify and step in if a loved one experiences a stroke. Given the rate of cell death, the risk associated with delaying treatment is huge.
The acronym F.A.S.T. has been used to educate the public on detecting symptoms of a stroke for decades. But what does it mean? Below is what F.A.S.T. stands for – and what you should keep in mind if you suspect somebody is experiencing a stroke.
- Facial weakness: Can they smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
- Arm weakness: Can they raise both arms?
- Speech problems: Can they speak clearly and understand what you say?
- Time to call 911: if you see any of these signs.
The quicker you or the patient is able to get medical attention, the less brain cells will die – meaning that the post-stroke rehabilitation will likely be simpler. But regardless, some form of aftercare will be required. This should be your next step immediately upon discharge from the hospital.
Rehabilitation cannot reverse brain damage. But it can help a stroke survivor achieve a more favorable long-term outcome, and improve their quality of life.