Warning Signs of a Stroke | All You Need to Know

Caused and warning signs of a stroke (Image via Unsplash/BUDDHI Kumar SHRESTHA)
Causes and warning signs of a stroke (Image via Unsplash/BUDDHI Kumar SHRESTHA)

Awareness of the warning signs of a stroke can prevent fatal brain attacks. Strokes are characterized by diminished blood flow to the brain tissues, resulting in the death of brain cells followed by severe symptoms throughout the body.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) recommends immediate medical attention to prevent fatalities and deaths. However, it's often difficult to distinguish between strokes and certain other conditions, which can prevent an individual from getting immediate treatment. Proper identification of the warning signs of a stroke can save someone's life.


What Is Recognizing a Stroke Acronym BEFAST?

The acronym BEFAST stands for Balance, Eyes, Face, Arm, Speech, and Time. The National Stroke Association suggests the use of the term “FAST” to help recognize stroke symptoms at the earliest.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, perform the following test:

  • F (Face): Ask the person to smile. If you notice a facial droop, this may be a warning sign.
  • A (Arms): Ask the person to raise both arms. Numbness or weakness can be a warning sign.
  • S (Speech): Ask the person to repeat a phrase. Slurred or strange speech indicates a stroke.
  • T (Time): If you see any of these symptoms, call emergency medical services immediately.

Major Warning Signs of a Stroke

Warning signs of a stroke are associated with high blood pressure. (Image via Unsplash/Mockup Graphics)
Warning signs of a stroke are associated with high blood pressure. (Image via Unsplash/Mockup Graphics)

There can be several signs of a stroke, including:

  • blurry or improper vision, in one or both eyes
  • numbness in limbs on either or both sides
  • fatigue
  • difficulty walking
  • fainting
  • general weakness
  • shortness of breath
  • confusion
  • sudden behavioral change
  • irritation
  • hallucination
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pain
  • seizures
  • hiccups

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you don’t have to wait for all the symptoms to occur.

You can call your local emergency services or get the affected person admitted to the hospital as soon as possible. The effect of a high-fat diet on the brain includes a higher risk of strokes.

According to AHA and ASA guidelines, people who experience a stroke have a 24-hour window to receive treatment.

Identifying the warning signs of a stroke can help a person get a clot removal procedure (mechanical thrombectomy) within this 24-hour window. Remember the stroke acronym BEFAST when you encounter a person experiencing these symptoms.


What Can Cause a Stroke?

Warning signs of a stroke include blurred speech. (Image via Unsplash/Robina Weermeijer)
Warning signs of a stroke include blurred speech. (Image via Unsplash/Robina Weermeijer)

There are two main causes of stroke: a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke).

The temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain is known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), a comparatively milder condition. Low-sodium foods can prevent strokes by reducing blood pressure.

Blocked blood vessels are caused by fat deposits that build up in blood vessels. The warning signs of a stroke do not differentiate between an ischemic stroke and a hemorrhagic stroke. Recent research has shown that COVID-19 infection may increase the risk of ischemic stroke.

Hemorrhagic strokes occur when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. Brain hemorrhages can result from several medical conditions such as accidents, uncontrolled blood pressure, overuse of certain medications, and the deposition of protein molecules. If you see any warning signs of a stroke in anyone around you, seek medical attention immediately.

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Edited by Indranil Biswas
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