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Tue, 5 Mar, 2019Basmah Qazi

Detecting strokes: Here’s what you need to know

Detecting strokes: Here’s what you need to know

After news broke of actor Luke Perry’s death following a “massive stroke” it’s important to understand the signs and symptoms.

The 52-year-old Riverdale and Beverly Hills, 90210 star passed away on March 4, after suffering a massive stroke late last week.

The much loved actor died while surrounded by family and friends. He leaves behind two children, 21-year-old Jack and 18-year-old Sophie, and his fiancé Wendy Madison Bauer.

Celebrities and those close to the actor took to Twitter to share their thoughts and well wishes.

The tragedy has started the conversation on strokes, with the condition being the third most common cause of death in Australia.

Each year, close to 40,000 Australians suffer from strokes, with 10,869 resulting in death in the year 2015.

What is a stroke?

According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), strokes are caused by lack of blood supply to the brain. This can be due to the blood flow being blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or when the vessels in the brain burst (haemorrhagic stroke).

Other incidents are classified as “brain attacks”, which happen when people suffer from a transient ischemic attack (TIA) or otherwise known as “mini strokes”.

These occur when there is a blockage of blood flow to the brain. But despite these short incidents only occurring for five minutes, they should be taken seriously as they are indicators for future strokes.

When the brain fails to receive an adequate amount of blood flow or oxygen, it can result in permanent disability or death.

What are the major symptoms of stroke?

The Stroke Foundation urges everyone to brush up on F.A.S.T.

The F.A.S.T test is a simple acronym that helps people understand the symptoms of stroke, and could be the difference between life or death.

F: Facial drooping or numbness. Ask the person to smile and check for any asymmetries.

A: Arm weakness. If the person is suffering from a stroke, they may find it difficult to move their arms. Ask them to raise both their arms to see any irregularities.

S: Slurred Speech. A common symptom of a stroke is slurring of the speech. People may either be talking extremely slow or it may be difficult to understand what they’re saying. Ask the person to repeat phrases several times, but even if their speech returns to normal, be sure to call a doctor regardless.

T: Time to call 000. If the person has any of the above symptoms, then call emergency services immediately.

Other symptoms to look out for

While F.A.S.T is important to be on top of, there are other symptoms also linked to strokes, such as walking difficulties or understanding conversations.

Those who suffer from severe headaches, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, all come under signs of a stroke and should be looked at by a doctor immediately.

Who is at risk?

Strokes do not discriminate and can happen to anyone at any age, but there are certain factors that make some people more susceptible to the condition than others. People who excessively smoke or consume alcohol, live sedentary lifestyles, have high cholesterol, blood pressure or diabetes have a much higher risk of suffering from a stroke. 

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