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A stroke happens due to a clot or bleed in the brain, which causes brain cells to die. Most people affected are over 65, but anyone can have a stroke, including children and even babies. Stroke is the third biggest killer and the leading cause of severe disability in the UK. Every year about 700,000 Americans experience a stroke; about 160,000 of these people die. I think the statistics are probably similar in many other countries.
Often there is no warning before a stroke happens, but some people suffer transient ischaemic attacks (TIA) prior to having a full blown stroke. These are known as mini-strokes.
The symptoms of a TIA are the same as for a stroke , but they last for a shorter period of time (from several minutes to up to 24 hours) and appear to leave no permanent effect. People who have had a TIA are nine times as likely to have a stroke as are those who haven't had a TIA according to the Mayo Clinic.
Intervention immediately after a stroke or a TIA happens can save lives, but how do you know the person's had a stroke?
The UK Stroke Association have publicised three simple tests that can help you recognise whether someone has had a stroke or a TIA:
F Facial weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or an eye drooped?
A Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms?
S Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
T Test these signs. If you see any of these signs, call the emergency services immediately.
The Stroke Association has a lot more factual information on its web site. Click here to go to it.
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