Each May is National Stroke Awareness Month, designed to increase awareness on the 800,000 strokes that occur in the USA each year. A stroke is caused when there is a blockage in the blood flow to the brain, or when a blood vessel in that area bursts, and while many may think that only the elderly are affected, strokes occur in people of all ages. While some may come out of a stroke relatively unscathed, the most likely outcome is that stroke victims will experience serious and life-changing complications, all of which could possibly have been avoided by simply knowing the signs in advance.

Main Stroke Symptoms
Depending on the specific area of the brain that has been affected by the stroke, the symptoms can drastically vary from person to person, with the extent of the damage also having an effect on this. The face is often affected by a stroke, dropping on one side, with the patient not being able to smile. They may also experience weakness or even numbness in one or both arms, and will be unable to lift and hold them up. While the patient may seem to be awake, they may not be able to speak, or, if they can, the speech might be severely slurred. If you have noticed any of these symptoms, then immediate medical attention is necessary, as time is now of the essence, and the quicker that they can be seen by a doctor, the less damage is likely to be done.

Woman suffering from a headache

Other Symptoms
Other signs of a stroke include sudden loss of vision, dizziness, confusion, difficulty with balance, difficulty in understanding what others are saying, trouble swallowing, and a sudden and severe headache that causes an extreme blinding pain. Although these symptoms can also be linked to a large number of other conditions and may not have been caused by a stroke, they still warrant a visit to a doctor.

Otherwise known as a transient ischemic attack, mini strokes have the same symptoms as a full stroke, but will usually only last for a few minutes, or a few hours at the most. While the symptoms may quickly improve, mini strokes are a warning sign that there is something wrong with the flow of blood to your brain, and should never be ignored, especially as this means that you are at much higher risk of having a full stroke in the future.

When dealing with strokes, it is absolutely crucial to seek immediate medical attention in order to not only prevent permanent disability, but also death. Of course, prevention is always better than cure, and there are a number of different lifestyle changes that you can make to lower your chances of experiencing a stroke. From eating a healthy diet to minimizing your intake of alcohol and cigarettes to keeping diabetes and blood pressure under control, there are many steps that you can take to ensure that your body is able to live a healthy, long and happy life. Use this National Stroke Awareness month as an opportunity to learn more about the condition, educating yourself and others on the signs of a stroke, as well as the methods of prevention.