If someone near you suffered a stroke, would you be able to recognise the signs? Would you know what to do in an emergency? According to the Stroke Association, there are 152,000 stroke attacks in the UK every year – that’s one person having a stroke every 3 ½ minutes.
But did you know that around 10,000 cases of strokes could be avoided if only we knew how to spot the symptoms early? When stroke strikes, you need to act fast!
What is a stroke?
A stroke is a life threatening medical emergency that occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is suddenly cut off. It is also known as a ‘brain attack’. Without adequate blood supplying oxygen to the brain cells, they can quickly become damaged or die. How exactly this affects the sufferer depends on which brain cells are involved. It can be fatal.
If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, speed is of the essence. You should phone 999 and request an ambulance immediately.
Recognising the symptoms
A stroke usually comes on suddenly, but the signs and symptoms vary widely between individuals; it depends which part of the brain is affected and how extensive the damage to the brain and nervous system is.
It’s important to be able to recognise the signs early, particularly among high risk groups including the elderly, diabetics or those with high blood pressure.
A good way to quickly remember how to recognise the signs and symptoms of a stroke is by using the acronym FAST, which stands for:
FACE: Check the person’s face. Is it droopy on one side? Are they able to smile normally or do you detect a slack mouth or eye? Is there facial paralysis?
ARMS: Ask the person to lift both arms up and observe how well they can carry out your instruction. Is there weakness or numbness on one side?
SPEECH: Has the person’s speech suddenly become indistinct or garbled? Are they able to talk at all?
TIME: If you detect any of the symptoms above, don’t waste any time to get medical help. Call 999 now.
While the primary signs and symptoms above are sufficient to identify that a stroke is in progress or has occurred, there may also be various other symptoms, including:
- Paralysis on one side of the body
- Dizziness and difficulties with body coordination and balance
- Sudden visual problems and/or extreme headache
- Cognitive difficulties and confused mental state
- Loss of consciousness
What is a mini stroke?
When the symptoms of a stroke seem temporary and disappear after a while, it may be tempting to dismiss them. Don’t – the person may have just suffered a mini stroke, also known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA). Far from being harmless, this can be a serious warning sign that a full blown stroke is on its way.
Even if the symptoms seem to have gone away completely, it is still essential to get checked out by a GP or local hospital as soon as possible and get a full assessment and/or treatment. Don’t brush any passing symptoms under the carpet; your life or that of someone close to you may just depend on getting seen by a medical practitioner.
Are you insured?
No-one wants to think about the unthinkable. But what would happen to your family if you suffered a stroke or other life threatening illness – would they be financially protected if you were unable to provide for them? Critical illness and life assurance cover may be sensible option.
If you would like to find out more about suitable life and family protection policies or get a quote, feel free to call our friendly, professional advisers on 0800 8497744.