If you don’t know this, you need to know this. If you know it, you need to review it. The knowledge can save someone’s life.
There are two types of stroke: Ischemic and Hemorrhagic. Each presents differently. Each can be severely debilitating or deadly.
Approximately 90% of all strokes are ischemic. A clot gets lodged in an artery in the brain, cutting off blood supply to the brain tissue.
Most ischemic strokes follow a similar pattern, often described with the acronym FAST. ‘F’ stands for facial droop on one side of the face; ‘A’ stands for arm weakness (ask the person to raise both arms in front of them, palms up. One arm will drift downward with gravity); ‘S’ is for slurred speech. The ‘T’ stands for Time. Call 911. The sooner you get the person to emergency care the less brain tissue will die. Emergency Care means a hospital – not an urgent care clinic.
The second type of stroke, this one accounting for approximately 10% of all strokes, is a hemorrhagic stroke. That occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (an aneurysm). The CLASSIC symptom of a hemorrhagic stroke is the complaint of “The worst headache in my life.”
Don’t miss those words. Take them very seriously. The patient might describe the headache as sharp or aching. My wife described hers as a tremendous pressure inside her head. (She survived quite well, thank God).
Sometimes the pain might subside a little so that it is no longer excruciating. Thus, the person might feel that he or she is getting better.
THEY ARE NOT GETTING BETTER. Call 911 and get the person to the nearest Emergency Department (not an urgent care clinic). As with an ischemic stroke, TIME equals brain tissue.
If the person resists going to the Emergency Department for whatever reason, you must INSIST they go. Remember, the longer the person with the ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke waits before treatment, the worse the outcome will be.