Because stroke is caused by a stoppage of blood flow to part of the brain, either by a blood clot or a bleeding blood vessel, symptoms usually do begin suddenly. But every stroke is different. Depending on the type of stroke, the parts of the brain affected, and the severity of the blockage or bleed, it is possible to have early warning signs that come on slowly.
Stroke acronym update
Most people have heard the acronym FAST, but recently experts are modifying that acronym to cover more symptoms. The new acronym is BE FAST. The letters represent:
- B – Balance difficulties
- E – Eyesight changes
- F – Facial droop
- A – Arm weakness
- S – Speech difficulties
- T – Time to call 911
The Society of NeuroInterventional Surgery (SNIS) has recommended this change because balance and eyesight symptoms often accompany back-of-brain strokes, which are less common but still occur frequently. This new acronym encompasses most of the significant symptoms that signal a stroke. But what symptoms can come on slowly?
What to look for in early detection
Many stroke patients do have early warning of a major stroke. One study found that 43% of stroke patients experienced symptoms of a mini-stroke (TIA) up to a week before their major attack. Quick treatment may have prevented the full-on stroke.
Some symptoms of a TIA or early onset of a major stroke, besides those listed in BE FAST, include:
- Numbness, tingling, or weakness that may come on gradually, or may go away after a while in the case of a TIA
- Difficulty walking or balancing; dizziness
- Severe headache
- Sudden flu-like symptoms or nausea with no explanation
- Briefly losing sight in one eye, blurry vision, or double vision that clears up
- Confusion or memory issues that grow graduallyIn the case of a true stroke, these symptoms will likely worsen and other stroke signs appear. In the case of a TIA, these symptoms may disappear, causing many people to think that, since the systems went away, they are fine now. Do not ignore these signs.
In the case of a true stroke, these symptoms will likely worsen and other stroke signs appear. In the case of a TIA, these symptoms may disappear, causing many people to think that, since the systems went away, they are fine now. Do not ignore these signs.
You may feel like you are overreacting by calling a doctor about symptoms that go away or that seem mild. Do not listen to that voice. Listen to the voice of reason. If you have any of these symptoms, something is wrong. It may not be a stroke, but whatever it is needs to be addressed. And if it is a stroke, your quick action could prevent long-term damage. Isn’t that worth making a phone call?
It is better to call 911 than your doctor so that you get immediate help. Your doctor would probably send you to the hospital for tests, anyway, so head right there. The medical team on the ambulance will immediately begin evaluating you and administering stroke protocols. They will be in touch with the hospital on the way, so the hospital will be ready for you. Tests will be done to determine your condition so that treatment can begin promptly.
Neuralert is committed to eliminating the devastating effects of stroke, which can be significantly reduced with rapid response. This is why we encourage you to notice and act on early warnings of stroke. And if you are at a high risk of stroke, consider using our stroke detection system, which looks like a smartwatch and is backed by state-of-the-art AI technology to assess and alert medical professionals at the first sign of asymmetric arm movement, one of the most common early warnings of stroke onset. Ask your doctor about adding Neuralert’s wristbands to your stroke-prevention plan.