It's what happens when blood stops flowing to the brain. Usually a blood clot is responsible for blocking flow of blood, but a stroke can also be the result of a broken blood vessel that bleeds into the brain. Without blood, brain cells start to die within minutes. The result can be permanent brain damage or death.
Neurologists say that if they can treat a stroke victim within three hours, the effects of the stroke can be mostly, if not completely, reversed. The trick is getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient the medical care they need within three hours, which is tough. That's why it's so important for you to be able to identify the signs of a stroke and act quickly.
Doctors have found several ways to identify if someone has had a stroke. They are easy to remember using the acronym S.T.R. (the first three letters of the word "stroke"):
S *Ask the individual to SMILE.
T *Ask the person to TALK and speak a simple sentence coherently.
(i.e. It is sunny out today.)
R *Ask them to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
A fourth indicator is the TONGUE. Ask the person to stick out their tongue. If their tongue is crooked (goes to one side of the mouth), call 911.
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