One thing to remember is that in a stroke, these symptoms often develop suddenly or within a few hours:
1. Weakness of a hand or leg:
Often patients notice that they cannot grasp something that is even slightly heavy e.g. a glass of water. Sometimes they may not be able to lift their arm above their head. If a leg becomes weak, the patient starts dragging that leg while walking.
2. Weakness of one side of the face:
This is frequently noticed by the patient’s family members rather than by the patient himself. If the patient tries to eat or drink, everything that he puts into his mouth dribbles down from the weak side.
3. Difficulty in speaking or understanding other people:
The patient may suddenly not be able to find the right words so that he can start speaking. The patient’s speech may become slurred. Sometimes, patients are unable to understand what is being said to them. Family members can ask him where they are, and in reply the patient may say “I am fine”.
Remember the acronym shortform FAST – Face, Arm, Speech and Time.
You could save someone’s life.
Other than these 3 major symptoms, there are other minor symptoms such as one side of the body feeling very heavy or double vision that may suggest that a person is having a stroke. If a patient has any of these symptoms, it is very important to take him immediately to the nearest large hospital.
We (doctors) have a very powerful medication that can dissolve blood clots. It is called tissue plasminogen activator (TPA).
TPA can only be given in the first 4.5 hours after a stroke!!!
The sooner tPA is given, the better the outcome.