A stroke occurs when blood flow is interrupted to part of the brain. Without blood to supply oxygen and nutrients, and to remove waste products, brain cells quickly begin to die. Depending on the region of the brain affected, a stroke may cause paralysis, speech impairment, loss of memory and reasoning ability, coma, or death.

Here are some guidelines which may help you to identify the symptoms of having a stroke â?? you may well be able to save your own or someone elseâ??s life:

1.  Learn the indications and symptoms of a stroke

Taking note of these early symptoms gives the victim the best chances for the fullest possible recovery. The symptoms of a stroke are very easy to detect. They include:

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  • Numbness or tingling in the face or extremities â?? especially on one side of the body.

  • Sudden confusion, difficulty with speaking or understanding words and phrases.

  • Trouble seeing in one and/or both eyes.

  • Trouble walking or standing up.

  • Light-headedness.

  • Sudden severe migraine to one or both sides of the head.

  • Slurred speech.

  • Facial droop or weakness.

2.  Learn to detect the symptoms of a stroke in another person

  • Ask the suspected stroke victim to smile/show their teeth â?? their face will appear asymmetrical or droopy on one side.

  • Ask them to close their eyes and stick their arms straight out in front of them, palms down. An indicator of stroke is if the arm(s) drift downward.

3.  Say a phrase and ask the person to repeat it, such as “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks”

If the person slurs, uses wrong words, or can’t understand you, it is indicative of a stroke.

4.  Remember that these symptoms usually happen and then go away

Do not ignore them even if they do go away. Call an emergency medical number immediately for advice. The symptoms can and definitely will come back if you don’t get help.

5.  Try to keep the person calm and rational when they exhibit the symptoms of having a stroke

This can be difficult, but try to keep the suspected stroke victim calm anyway.

  • Keep a cell phone close by or be near a phone. When a person experiences any one of the symptoms, call your local emergency number immediately.

  • Detect hospitals that have a 24-hour emergency stroke centre in your area and if so, go there immediately with the suspected stroke victim.

  • Check the time the person started to have the symptom(s) because you will be asked about this later.

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