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How to identify a stroke

Written by Caidr's team of doctors and pharmacists based in UK | Updated: 26.01.2023 | 2 min read

If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone the emergency services immediately and request an ambulance. During a stroke, every minute is vital to reduce the brain damage that a stroke can cause. By knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke, you can save someone’s life.

Signs of a stroke - FAST

The acronym FAST is an easy way to remember the symptoms.

• Face – the face may have dropped on 1 side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.

• Arms – the person may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.

• Speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake; they may also have problems understanding what you're saying to them.

• Time – it's time to dial the emergency services immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

Other symptoms of a stroke

FAST (face, arms, speech, time) can identify most strokes, however, sometimes a stroke can present with different symptoms such as:

• Complete paralysis of 1 side of the body

• Sudden loss or blurring of vision

• Dizziness

• Confusion

• Difficulty understanding what other people are saying

• Problems with balance and co-ordination

• Difficulty swallowing (known medically as dysphagia)

• A sudden and very severe headache resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before

• Loss of consciousness

TIA (mini stroke)

Transient ischaemic attack, also known as TIA or mini-stroke is when a part of your brain has a reduced blood supply, like a stroke, but the symptoms only last for a short period and have fully resolved by 24 hours. TIA's still need urgent medical attention, as they present exactly like a stroke and so must be treated with the same urgency. If the symptoms resolve, this is still a serious problem as it can be a sign of an underlying condition and may later lead to a full stroke. Unfortunately, some people ignore TIAs as their symptoms resolve, however medical attention must be sought immediately by calling the emergency services.

If you think you have had a TIA before, but the symptoms have since passed and you did not seek medical advice at the time, make an urgent appointment with a doctor to discuss further.

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