A stroke is no joke! Here’s how to recognize the signs

Witnessing or suffering a stroke is a scary experience. A stroke happens when blood stops flowing to part of your brain, which damages brain cells. Since some strokes are more subtle than others, recognizing the signs of stroke and acting quickly could mean the difference between a full recovery and life-altering disabilities.

A stroke is a medical emergency, so don’t play tough guy if you experience any of the three major signs of stroke listed here:

  1. Face — Sudden drooping face muscles, usually on one side, could mean a stroke is happening.
  2. Arms — If you suspect that you, or someone near you, is having a stroke, raise both hands above your head (and ask the other person to do likewise). If one arm won’t go up, a stroke could be the reason.
  3. Speech — Is your speech suddenly slurred or jumbled? Time to take action!

An easy way to remember the signs

The acronym for signs of a stroke — F.A.S.T — includes Face, Arms, Speech, and now we add the critical fourth factor: TIME. In all cases where you suspect stroke, call 911 right away and ensure you’re taken to a hospital that provides acute stroke care. The correct immediate care can make all the difference.

Other possible stroke signs, when combined, are sudden blurred or double vision, severe headache, numbness, and problems with balance.

Thankfully, 80% of Canadians who experience a stroke will survive. But stroke is no joke! So now that you know the warning signs, share them with your family, buddies, and work colleagues. Fast action could save a life!

For more information, please visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada website.

This article was originally published on June 25, 2018.

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