Advert warns to act FAST when you see signs of a stroke
A stroke is a serious and life-threatening medical emergency. It is caused by the blood supply to the brain being temporarily cut off, usually due to a blood clot or a vessel bursting. Whatever the cause, any warning signs must be picked up on as soon as possible.
Many of us are aware of the most common signs due to the acronym FAST, which stand for:
- Face – The face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have dropped
- Arms – The person with a suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm
- Speech – Their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you’re saying to them
- Time – It’s time to dial 999 immediately if you see any of these signs or symptoms.
However, there are lesser-known symptoms that could be cause for concern.
Professor Martin Dennis, an expert in stroke medicine at the University of Edinburgh, told Mail Online it is essential that stroke sufferers are treated quickly to avoid further health problems, disabilities or even death.
Sudden numbness on one side of the body
Numbness that affects the hand, arm, leg or part of the face is common. According to Prof Dennis this is often due to nerve compression, especially if it occurs while sitting or laying down, as this can put pressure on nerves.
But if sudden numbness occurs in the face and arm or the arm and leg, “at the same time”, this is cause for concern.
Sudden memory loss
Confusion and difficulty understanding speech are signs of a stroke, which may seem like someone has lost their memory. Therefore, sudden memory loss can appear to be a “rare” sign of a stroke, Prof Dennis said.
He explained: “People who develop aphasia or dysphasia (difficulties understanding language) will jumble their words, and may not be able to say anything, or understand anything. Their reading and writing may be affected.
“They may be described by lay people as being confused or having loss of memory because they cannot answer questions.”
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Loss of sight in one or both eyes
A stroke can cause blurred vision, as well as loss of vision in one eye or both eyes, however, this symptom may not be as well recognised as facial weakness.
A study published in the journal Stroke in 2017, found that of the one in seven stroke sufferers who do not experience FAST symptoms, four in 10 reported visual problems.
Strokes can cut off circulation to the eye, leading to the loss of vision.
Vertigo is the sensation that you or the environment around you, is spinning.
While it is more often than not harmless and the sign of an ear infection or headache, it could also signal something more dangerous. When coupled with other symptoms such as double vision, weakness or clumsiness of the limbs and slurred speech, it can be a sign of a stroke.
One study, published in Stroke journal in 2018, reported that up to five percent of patients attending emergency departments in the US with vertigo and dizziness were experiencing a stroke.
Professor Martin James, a consultant stroke physician at the Royal Devon and Exeter NHS Foundation Trust in Devon, warned difficulty swallowing should still be taken seriously.
However, he told the Mail Online it is “very very rarely a sign of a stroke on its own”.
One study, published in Stroke Journal in 2018, reported that up to five percent of patients attending emergency departments in the US with vertigo and dizziness were experiencing a stroke.
Dysphagia is the medical term for difficulty swallowing and affects around four million adults in the UK.
A sudden, severe headache
More often associated with migraines, a sudden, severe headache could in some rarer cases “be a feature of a subarachnoid or intracerebral bleed,” Prof Dennis said.
A subarachnoid haemorrhage, a less common type of stroke, is caused by bleeding in the space around the brain.
This bleeding can often cause serious side effects, including disability or can even prove to be fatal.
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