What Does a Stroke Feel Like?

Stroke is the #1 cause of disability in America, and the longer it takes to get medical help, the worse the damage the stroke causes. Know the signs of a stroke and seek medical intervention immediately to decrease the risk of long-term disability. 

What happens in the first minutes of a stroke

Ischemic strokes, which make up 80% of all strokes, are caused by a blood clot in an artery. Hemorrhagic strokes are caused by a rupture of a blood vessel in the brain or neck. In either case, blood flow to some part of the brain is cut off, preventing oxygen from reaching the brain cells. 

After just a few minutes of oxygen deprivation, brain cells begin to die. At this point, an estimated two million brain cells die every minute that blood flow is not restored. While our brains have billions of cells, the longer it takes to restore blood flow, the worse the potential damage to the brain. 

First symptoms of a stroke

Because of the suddenness of strokes, your symptoms will likely occur very suddenly as well. You may be feeling fine and then suddenly you feel numbness on half of your face. Maybe one side of your body feels unexpectedly weak – you can’t lift things or walk properly. You may become dizzy or have blurry or double vision. You can’t remember what you were doing, or where you are, or you experience some other sudden onset of confusion. You may be in the middle of a conversation and suddenly start to slur or make no sense. 

These are very likely to be signs of a stroke. Don’t wait to see if they will resolve themselves – if it’s a stroke, your symptoms will only get worse. If it’s not a stroke, you and your medical team will be glad you acted quickly, and they will work to resolve what it actually is. So either way, you win.

Getting help fast

If you are alone, call 911 as soon as you can. If you are able, just say, “I’m having a stroke.” If your words are slurred, try anyway, and the dispatcher should send help, recognizing your distress. Hopefully, you are not alone when this happens and someone else can call 911 for you. Do not have someone drive you to the hospital. The emergency medical team that comes with the ambulance will be able to begin medical protocols and communicate information to the hospital so that a stroke team is ready for you when you arrive. 

If you are at high risk of a stroke due to multiple risk factors or a history of previous stroke or mini-stroke (TIA), ask your doctor about adding a Neuralert stroke detection wristband to your overall medical health strategy. Our innovative stroke detection monitor, combining a unique, non-invasive wristband technology with a state-of-the-art patented algorithm, detects asymmetry in arm movement, one of the initial indications of stroke onset. Studies have demonstrated that our technology detects 65% of strokes within 30 minutes and 94% within 80 minutes, allowing medical personnel to quickly begin potentially life-saving treatments. 

Administering the right medications within four hours from the beginning of a stroke will increase the likelihood of effectiveness. When you arrive at the hospital, the stroke team will quickly evaluate you and then rush you for appropriate testing, such as a CT scan or MRI, to determine if you have a blood clot or a brain bleed.

If they find a blood clot, indicating an ischemic stroke, medications will be administered, including thrombolytics, which are very effective when given within the first 4.5 hours of a stroke. Other clot-busting, anti-platelet, and anticoagulant medications may be prescribed, as well as blood pressure medications or statins to reduce blood cholesterol levels.

With a hemorrhagic stroke, quick action is even more critical than with an ischemic stroke. Some form of surgery is often necessary, coupled with drugs to lower blood pressure.

Do not delay treatment if you have any signs of a stroke. And talk to your doctor about Neuralert’s stroke detection system to help you receive treatment as soon as possible.