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How to Identify the Signs of a Stroke

Posted by Doreen Dann, RN, BSN, MHA, May 22, 2017

Strokes are a major medical event, and can lead to long-term disability or even death. So it makes sense that we all assume we would notice if a loved one suffered a stroke. Unfortunately, the early signs of a stroke might show up as a simple stumble or fall, or some other minor event that is easily explained away.

In most cases, prompt medical attention can reverse the damage from a stroke, as long as the patient gets to the hospital right away. No one wants to look back and wish they had noticed the event happening sooner. That’s why learning the signs of a stroke is so important if you and your partner are at increased risk due to age or any other health factor.

Luckily, there is a simple, three-step test you can use, to determine if a loved one might be experiencing a stroke. And it’s easy to remember, because it correlates with the first three letters of “stroke”: STR.

S: Ask the person to smile.

T: Ask the person to talk. Can they repeat a short sentence? (“My name is Jane”)

R: Ask the person to raise both arms overhead.

One more tip…

You can also ask the person to stick out their tongue. Typically we do this by sticking our tongue straight out. If the tongue goes to the right or left, this is another sign of neurological impairment from a stroke.

If your loved one can’t perform even one of these steps, call 911 immediately and describe what’s going on. Prompt treatment can lessen the brain damage from a stroke, or even save a life.

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