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  • Writer's pictureDr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam

The Earliest Warning Signs of a Brain Stroke (Paralysis)

A brain stroke, also known simply as a stroke, occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, preventing brain tissue from getting oxygen and nutrients. Brain cells begin to die within minutes, making it a medical emergency. Recognizing the earliest warning signs of a stroke and seeking immediate medical attention can save lives and improve recovery outcomes.

Understanding Stroke: The Basics

There are two main types of strokes:

1. Ischemic Stroke: This is the most common type, accounting for about 87% of all strokes. It occurs when a blood clot blocks or narrows an artery leading to the brain.

2. Hemorrhagic Stroke: This type happens when a blood vessel in the brain bursts, leading to bleeding in or around the brain.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), often called a mini-stroke, is a temporary period of symptoms similar to those of a stroke. A TIA doesn’t cause permanent damage, but it’s a warning sign that a full-blown stroke could occur soon.

Recognizing the Earliest Warning Signs

The key to minimizing the damage from a stroke is prompt treatment. Here are the earliest warning signs you should watch for:

1. Sudden Numbness or Weakness

• Description: Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body, is a common early sign of a stroke.

• Details: You might feel this in your face, arm, or leg. It’s often described as a “dead weight” sensation in the affected limb.

2. Confusion or Difficulty Speaking

• Description: Experiencing sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding speech.

• Details: This can manifest as slurred speech, difficulty finding the right words, or difficulty comprehending what others are saying.

3. Vision Problems

• Description: Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

• Details: This could include blurred vision, blackened vision, or seeing double.

4. Trouble Walking

• Description: Sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, or loss of balance and coordination.

• Details: You might stumble, have a hard time standing up, or feel a sense of spinning.

5. Severe Headache

• Description: A sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

• Details: This is more common in hemorrhagic strokes. The pain can be described as the “worst headache of your life.”

The FAST Method: A Quick Way to Identify Stroke Symptoms

The FAST method is a simple way to remember the major symptoms of a stroke:

• F - Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven?

• A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

• S - Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is the sentence repeated correctly?

• T - Time to Call your doctor: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, call an ambulance and get to the hospital immediately. Time is critical.

Other Important Considerations

While the symptoms mentioned are the most common early warning signs of a stroke, there are other symptoms and conditions that might precede a stroke, such as:

• Sudden Severe Headaches: Particularly if they are accompanied by vomiting or altered consciousness.

• Sudden Numbness or Paralysis in the Face, Arm, or Leg: Especially on one side of the body.

• Sudden Trouble Speaking or Understanding: Including sudden confusion.

• Sudden Visual Disturbances: Including sudden double vision or loss of vision in one eye.

• Sudden Problems with Walking, Dizziness, or Loss of Balance: Particularly if accompanied by nausea or vomiting.

What to Do If You Suspect a Stroke

1. Call Emergency Services Immediately: Do not wait to see if the symptoms go away.

2. Note the Time: If possible, note when the symptoms first appeared. This information is crucial for medical professionals.

3. Stay Calm and Stay Safe: Keep the person as comfortable as possible until help arrives.

Prevention and Risk Factors

Understanding and managing risk factors can help prevent strokes. These include:

• High Blood Pressure: The leading cause of strokes. Regular monitoring and management are crucial.

• Diabetes: Maintaining blood sugar levels can help reduce the risk.

• Smoking: Quitting smoking significantly lowers the risk.

• High Cholesterol: Managing cholesterol levels through diet, exercise, and medication can prevent strokes.

• Physical Inactivity and Obesity: Regular exercise and a healthy diet can improve overall cardiovascular health.

Dr. Karuturi Subrahmanyam, MD, FRCP (London), FACP (USA)

Internal Medicine Specialist

Kify Hospital



Phone : 85000 23456

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