Acting fast on stroke symptoms

 A series of articles by various writers on medical topics this one is by Edel Rooney.

My 82-year-old mother has a history of stroke in her family.  Since she lives alone I worry about her.  What are the symptoms of stroke?  

You may be familiar with the traditional stroke symptoms: numbness or weakness on one side of the body, trouble talking, loss of vision or coordination problems.  However, women may be susceptible to less common symptoms.

It is important to recognise stroke symptoms and act quickly. The National Stroke Association in America lists the common stroke symptoms in both men and women as:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of 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

In addition, women may report unique stroke symptoms including:

  • sudden face and limb pain
  • sudden hiccups
  • sudden nausea
  • sudden general weakness
  • sudden chest pain
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • sudden palpitations

Researchers do not know why women’s symptoms are different.

Every minute counts for stroke patients and acting F.A.S.T. can lead patients to the stroke treatments they desperately need.  The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognised and diagnosed within the first three hours of the first symptoms. Make sure everyone involved in assisting for your mother knows the F.A.S.T. stroke diagnosis check-list:

Face – Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms –            Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can s/he repeat the sentence correctly?

Time – If the person shows any of these symptoms time is important. Call 112 or 999 or get to the hospital quickly. Brain cells are dying.

If you’re worried that your mother is at risk, please ask her to see her doctor.  Then, why not arrange for a caregiving companion to assist her at home and serve as a second set of eyes for you?

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