Stroke symptoms to watch out for

It is important to know how to detect the symptoms of a stroke in time in order to limit the damage it may cause.

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In fact, it can make the difference between having a light brain injury, a serious disability or even death.

And yet, most people who suffer from it do not quickly identify what is happening to them and many do not seek medical help until several hours after the first symptoms.

Frequently patients ignore what those first signs are or minimize them believing that they are temporary and will disappear.

But within minutes of interrupting the circulation of blood to the brain, the cells begin to die.

Alarm symptoms

The most common symptom of a stroke is a sudden weakness in the face, arm or leg, almost always on one side of the body, says the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to the British National Health Service (NHS for its acronym in English) you should seek medical attention immediately when you see any of these symptoms:

Paralysis on the face: a part of the face may seem like hanging. The patient may not smile or the mouth or eye may appear saggy.

Weakness in the arms: a person who is suffering a stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them in the air. You can also, for example, feel weak to lift a drink. Another warning sign is to feel that an arm is asleep.

Difficulty with language (aphasia): the patient may notice slow speech, articulate words poorly or say confusing or incoherent things. Some people may be totally unable to speak, despite being awake.

Other symptoms that need attention are sudden problems with one or both eyes, sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or lack of coordination, sudden and severe headache with no known cause and confusion and problems with perception.

What happens during a stroke?

Like all organs, in order to function properly, the brain needs oxygen and nutrients that the blood carries. Stroke occurs when blood flow is interrupted.

This can happen due to a clot blocking the flow of blood or the rupture of a blood vessel in the brain.

According to the WHO, in 2012, 6.7 million people worldwide died from strokes.

The NHS estimates that one in four people who suffer from it die, and those who survive often suffer serious long-term problems as a result of brain damage.

Older people are more at risk of having a stroke, although they can happen at any age, including children. Similarly, the possibility of suffering a stroke doubled with each decade after reaching 55 years of age.

Key recommendations

It is recommended to identify what our heart rate is. Atrial fibrillation, a heart rhythm disorder that generates irregular heartbeats, can multiply the risk of stroke by 5.

In addition, it is important to be attentive and ask for medical help if there is a cerebral mini-stroke, known in medicine as a Transient Ischemic Accident.

In this case the symptoms are the same but temporary, and disappear before 24 hours, sometimes they can even last only a few minutes.

But ignoring it is dangerous: according to several doctors, one out of every 12 people who have a mini-stroke suffers a large stroke in less than a week.

Many experts warn that in addition to hypertension, cholesterol, diabetes and atrial fibrillation there are other factors that increase the risk of suffering a stroke, such as smoking, obesity, lack of physical activity and poor diet.