Stroke takes two main forms, an Ischemic stroke and a Haemorrhagic stroke and they have very different causes.
By far and away the most common is the Ischemic stroke which is caused by a blockage in the blood supply within the brain and if not treated quickly this can lead to brain damage or even death. Sometimes the blockage self-clears fairly quickly and where this happens the casualty may have suffered a Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or ’mini-stroke’ as it’s often referred to.
The main signs and symptoms of a stroke are the ones that are frequently advertised as the FAST signs so:
F: Face – does the face droop or sag on one side, perhaps around the eye or mouth?
A: Arms – can the patient lift both arms up to the same height and keep them there or does one arm drop or sag?
S: Speech – can the patient speak normally or at all; is their speech slurred; can they remember basic facts such as their name or where they live?
T: Time – time to call 999. The faster we act, the sooner the patient gets the treatment they urgently need.
A Haemorrhagic stroke is caused by a bleed to the brain and around 15% of strokes are as a result of a bleed. The signs and symptoms of a Haemorrhagic Stroke may well follow FAST but there can be additional things to watch out for:
- A sudden, severe headache that just gets worse and pain killers don’t seem to help
- A deepening of their skin colour; becoming flushed or darker
- Sudden blurred vison or loss of sight in one or both eyes
- A sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body including hands, legs or feet
- Sudden memory loss, confusion, dizziness or a sudden fall
If you see any of these signs and symptoms then you must seek urgent medical attention and call 999
The longer you delay, the worse the chances are of a good outcome.
To learn more about strokes then you can go to the Stroke Association’s website by clicking here