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How to Recognize a Stroke

A stroke is when a blood clot or damaged vessel blocks the brain’s supply of blood and oxygen. Because of the sensitive nature of the brain, and the fact that it controls all functions and senses of the body, these “brain attacks” can have negative and possibly permanent effects on vision, speech, hearing, reading, writing, even thinking itself. That’s why recognizing the signs, and knowing what to do, is vital.

Being aware of the risk factors for a stroke can help you make changes to minimize your risk of suffering one. Smoking, inactivity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and heart disorders are all factors that increase the chances of a stroke. Other factors that unfortunately can’t be helped include age and ethnicity.

While the potential effects of a stroke can be varied, depending on the part of the brain affected, the warning signs are common enough that they can be remembered with a convenient acronym: BE FAST.

●     Balance: A stroke can bring on a sudden loss of balance.

●     Eyes: Loss of vision in one or both eyes is a common sign of a stroke.

●     Face: Facial paralysis or loss of muscle tone on one side of the face is a common sign. If the person is unable to smile with both sides of their mouth, it could be a stroke.

●     Arms: Inability to lift both arms up evenly.

●     Speech: Slurred, disoriented, or lack of speech.

●     Time: Getting emergency care as fast as possible is critical for stroke recovery.

Even if symptoms disappear suddenly and the person appears to make a full recovery, getting emergency treatment is still critical.