Stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, and also a major cause of disability in adults. A stroke occurs when something blocks blood supply to the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts. This causes a part of the brain to die, causing lasting brain damage, long-term disability, or even death.
When a stroke occurs, time is of the essence for saving a life and avoiding or minimizing permanent damage. Knowing what the stroke symptoms are is the best way to save someone’s life. If you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or another, you should immediately call 911:
- Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
- A sudden severe headache with no known cause.
The CDC recommends using the B.E.F.A.S.T. test to quickly determine whether someone is having a stroke:
B – Balance: Observe if the person is having sudden loss of balance.
E – Eyes: Ask the person if they are experiencing vision loss.
F – Face: Ask the person to smile and look to see whether one side of their face droops.
A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms and look to see whether one arm drifts downward.
S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase and listen for slurred or strange speech.
T – Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
If possible, make a note of the time when you first noticed the stroke symptoms, as this can help healthcare providers determine the best course of treatment. Do not attempt to drive someone experiencing a stroke to the hospital – and definitely don’t drive yourself if you suspect you are having one. By calling 911 and having an ambulance come to your location, first responders can start administering life-saving treatment right away. The best chance for surviving a stroke is with medical care that is provided within the first three hours of the stroke occurring, and victims of stroke may not be eligible for some stroke treatments if care is not accessed within this time frame.
Remember these stroke symptoms and the B.E.F.A.S.T. test for determining whether someone is having a stroke, and share this information with those you know. You may save a life by knowing this information, and someone could also save yours!