Stroke is a medical emergency in which blood circulation to the brain fails resulting in lack of oxygen to brain cells. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die. Stroke may be caused by blockade of blood flow to the brain or bleeding or blood clot plugging a blood vessel in the brain (hemorrhagic stroke).
Since stroke is a medical emergency, it is important to identify the symptoms or warning signs of stroke early so that early hospital care can be sought. Let us have a look at some of the warning signs of stroke:
1. Face drooping: One side of the face may suddenly droop or become numb. Asking the person to smile may reflect an uneven smile.
2. Numbness or weakness in arm (especially on one side): Check if person can raise both arms. See if one arm is drifting downwards.
3. Difficulty in speech: Speech may suddenly become slurred or incomprehensible.
4. Difficulty in sight: Person may have sudden trouble in seeing in one or both eyes.
5. Confusion: Person may have confusion and difficulty in understanding spoken voice.
6. Difficulty in walking: Person may have sudden trouble in walking. He may experience dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
7. Severe headache: Person may have sudden severe headache with no known cause.
Time is precious when it comes to management of stroke. For each minute of sustained stroke and blocked blood flow to brain, person loses about 1.9 million neurons, hence may cause disabilities of movement, memory, speech, etc. Hence early identification of warning signs and seeking early medical intervention is critical.
Sometimes people have brief episodes of dizziness, weakness, drowsiness and double vision lasting only few moments. They are called as “Mini-strokes” or “Transient Ischaemic Attacks”. Since the symptoms vanish after few moments, people tend to ignore them. Not ignoring such mini-attacks can help in identifying a potentially serious underlying medical condition. So it is important not to ignore such mini black outs. Stay vigilant, stay safe.
-Dr. Deepak Kripal