A stroke is a very serious illness that stops your brain working properly. It occurs when the brain tissue is starved of oxygen, usually caused by a blockage in an artery leading to the brain or in a blood vessel inside the brain.
Time is critical in the event of a stroke so it is vital that you know how to recognise one. The easiest way is to remember FAST:
- FACE – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
- ARMS – can they raise both arms and keep them there?
- SPEECH – is their speech slurred?
- TIME – call 999 if you see any single one of these signs of a stroke
If you’re on your own some of the most common symptoms to look out for are:
- Numbness or weakness down one side (ranging in severity from weakness in your hand to complete paralysis of the whole side of your body)
- Weakness in your face (which could make you drool saliva)
- Communication problems (difficulty talking and understanding what others are saying)
- Problems with balance and co-ordination
- Difficulty swallowing
- Severe headaches
- Loss of consciousness (in severe cases)
Within the North West there are some dedicated stroke centres so don’t be alarmed if you’re not taken to your nearest hospital.
Know your blood pressure
When you have high blood pressure your heart has to make a greater effort to circulate blood around the body which puts added strain on your heart and the blood vessels that supply oxygen to your brain. The continual strain on blood vessels can cause them to become clogged up or weakened which can lead to narrow blood vessels and blood clots, which in turn can cause a stroke.