What is a stroke and what signs should I look out for?

By: Dr. Atassi

Strokes are the number one cause of disability, and the fifth leading cause of death in the United States.  There are two kind of strokes:

  1. Ischemic stroke – There is not enough blood supplying the brain or parts of the brain. This happens when the blood flow inside the vessel is stopped due to either atherosclerosis (hardening of the blood vessels with cholesterol deposits) or blocked blood flow inside the vessel due blood clot (thrombosis or embolus).
  2. Hemorrhagic stroke means that a blood vessel inside the brain has ruptured and the blood is seeping outside the blood vessels inside the brain and causing disruption and damage to the brain tissue (ICH), or outside and around the brain (SAH). The following are major risk factors for stroke: High blood pressure, diabetes mellitus, Smoking, Physical inactivity, and high blood cholesterol.

An easier way to remember the signs of a stroke is the acronym F.A.S.T. which stands for F (face), A (arm), S (speech), T (time).

F = Facial droop or sudden numbness or tingling in the face

A = Tingling or weakness in the arm

S = Speech disturbance could be the first warning sign of impending stroke

T = Time is of the essence and the person experiencing any or all of these symptoms should be transported to a hospital as soon as possible since the best chance for optimum recovery if the treatment is initiated in the first 4 hours.

As a recognized Comprehensive Stroke Center, DHR Health provides an award-winning stroke treatment facility and has the full spectrum of comprehensive stroke treatment services such as a neuro-critical care unit, neuro-intensivists, neuro-interventionists, neurologists and neurosurgeons and a certified stroke rehab hospital.

Calling 911 soon after the beginning of any or all of these symptoms is critical to activate the hospital’s stroke team.  Even during a pandemic, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential that patients go to the emergency department for evaluation and treatment if they are exhibiting any of the signs of a stroke.