How Can I Tell if I am Having a Stroke?

Am I having a stroke? That is common question that many people ask themselves when they experience severe chest pain. The answer is possibly. A stroke, also known as a “brain attack,” occurs when blood stops flowing to your brain. When the blood flow to your brain is “cut off” for more than a few seconds, your brain cells start to die because they are not getting the blood and oxygen that they need to survive. Once your brain cells die, they cannot be reproduced, and the result is brain damage. The most common strokes are: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. An ischemic stroke arises when a blood clot prevents an artery (blood vessel) from supplying blood and oxygen to your brain. This type of stroke usually develops when plaque (a sticky material) clogs an artery.

A hemorrhagic stroke, on the other hand, arises when one of your blood vessels weakens and opens, allowing blood to leak into your brain ventricles (cavities).You are more susceptible to strokes, if there are abnormalities in your brain’s blood vessels. In addition, hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for this condition. Symptoms of a stroke vary, but paralysis, loss of control, and changes in mood and personality appear to be commonly reported. If you are wondering if you are having a stroke, you have come to the right place. This article will help you determine if you need to seek emergency medical treatment for your symptoms.

Listed below are symptoms commonly associated with strokes:

  • Facial Paralysis

You may be having a stroke if you suddenly experience facial paralysis. If you are unable to smile or if your smile is crooked, lop-sided, and/or one side of your face feels rigid or stiff, you may be in the midst of a stroke. Call 9-1-1 immediately.

  • Immobility

Another common, but serious symptom associated with a stroke is immobility. If you cannot raise your arms, and/or hold them at an equal height, you may be having a stroke. In other words, if you suddenly cannot raise one arm the height of the other, and/or if your arms or legs feel unusually weak, heavy, tingly, and/or numb, you need to seek emergency medical treatment. Other mobility-related symptoms associated with a stroke include: the inability to move, control your arms and/or legs, read and/or write, balance, and/or coordinate your movements.

  • Sudden Headaches

Although not as common as facial paralysis or immobility, another symptom of a stroke is a sudden, severe headache that worsens or persists. If you are having a stroke, you may also experience vision impairments. This headache can occur on one side of your head or both. Seek emergency medical treatment.

  • Speech Impairment

If you are in midst of a stroke, you may have trouble speaking. In other words, you may have a difficult time forming simple sentences, and/or you may slur your words. In some cases, you may appear incoherent to others. As mentioned previously, seek emergency medical care or call 9-1-1 immediately.

  • Dizziness, Confusion, & Physical Changes

It is also common to experience dizziness, confusion, and/or physical changes before, during, or after a stroke. You may also experience vertigo, clumsiness, confusion, a loss of memory, mood swings, and/or changes in your hearing, taste and touch. In severe cases, you may even lose your ability to feel pressure, pain, and/or changes in temperature. Seek emergency medical treatment.

  • Loss of Bladder & Bowel Functions

Although rare, you may suddenly lose control of your bladder or bowels during a stroke, so it is important to seek emergency medical treatment, if you experience these symptoms.

References:

Medical News Today. (2014). What are strokes? What causes strokes? Retrieved from http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/7624.php

PubMed Health. (2013). Stroke. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001740/#adam_000726.disease.symptoms

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