When a person suffers from stroke (a condition in which a part of the brain loses blood supply and stops working), the part of the body controlled by the affected region of the brain stops working. Stroke is of two types: Ischemic stroke – which is due to a blood clot in the blood vessel supplying blood to the brain and hemorrhagic stroke – in this case, the blood vessel supplying the blood to the brain ruptures due to high blood pressure.

The patient who suffers from stroke needs immediate medical help because with the onset of symptoms – there is only 3 to 4 hours window period to use clot busting drugs (thrombolytics) to restore the blood supply to the affected part of the brain.

Stroke occurs suddenly and typically on one side of the body. Sometimes, mini-stroke (transient ischemic attack occurs and go away on its own. However, whatever may be the case; it is always better to take the affected person to a hospital for prompt treatment.

The most common signs and symptoms of stroke include the sudden onset of:

  • Loss of sensation in any part of the body
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Swallowing difficulties
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Behavioral changes
  • Weakness or paralysis on one side
  • Loss of balance, coordination, walking difficulties
  • Numbness or a “pins and needles” sensation anywhere in the body
  • Blurred vision, trouble seeing, disturbances in eyesight in one or both the eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Severe headache that usually is unlike headaches in the past
  • Slurred speech, Inability to speak, or inability to understand speech

Are the symptoms of mini-stroke [Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA)] different?

The signs and symptoms of mini-stroke are the ones that are mentioned above and they are more or less similar to stroke. However, the symptoms go away on its own. Therefore, a mini-stroke can have most of the symptoms of a full-blown stroke.

What if someone shows the signs and symptoms of stroke?

As you have already learned to understand the nature of stroke symptoms with the acronym FAST – now it is the time to remember it and act fast – which means look out for these symptoms – drooping face, weakness in arms, speech difficulty and then immediately call for medical help. Your swift action can save someone’s life or might reduce the chances of long-term disability.

Which specialties of doctors treat stroke?

The person who suffers from a stroke is typically cared for in an emergency department and thus initially an emergency physician sees the patient. To treat the stroke, a group of doctors take care of the patient. Neurologist and stroke specialist attend the patient along with interventional radiologist (IR) and critical care specialist when the patient undergoes treatment in the hospital.