Detect a stroke and save a life!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012
A stroke or cerebrovascular accident is a medical emergency: what is a stroke exactly?

Our brain and particularly neuronal cells need blood to function for it provides oxygen and glucose. Thus, there is a large vascular net in our brain and in normal conditions, blood circulate easily.

A clot can block a cerebral artery or a blood vessel can break so blood cannot circulate. When there is a disturbance in blood supply to the brain, neuronal cells lack oxygen, they suffer and finally, they die. What is the result? Brain damage occurs.

Or areas of the brain control different abilities such as movement, memory and speech. When brain cells die, it is easy to understand that these abilities will be lost in different levels depending on how much the brain is damaged.

That’s why a stroke is an emergency: it can cause permanent neurological damage and even death.

How to detect a stroke?

Stroke symptoms typically start suddenly and it affects speech, movement and memory. Symptoms and its seriousness depend on how many brain cells die: The more extensive the area of brain affected, the more functions that are likely to be lost. A minor stoke may cause only minor problems such as weakness of a leg, whereas a larger one may cause real paralysis.

According to the National Stroke Association ( common stroke symptoms include:
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body,
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding,
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes,
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination,
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Use the F.A.S.T. test for recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms:

F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or

T = TIME If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call the emergency service or get to the nearest stroke center or hospital.

Another simple way to detect a stroke is to use the acronym RST :

S = SMILE! Ask the individual to smile and to stick his tongue out.

T = TALK! Ask the person to talk or speak a simple sentence coherently like
“It is sunny out today.”

R = RAISE! Ask the person to raise both arms together.

If someone fails any one of these 3 simple tests, don’t hesitate and call for an ambulance: the quicker a stroke victim is examined by a neurologist, the better he will be.

Once the stroke symptoms occur the clock starts ticking and your quick response could be the difference between life or death, permanent disability or significant recovery.

Laure Martinat


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