A stroke and heart attack may appear similar in some respects, but they are completely different medical conditions. Harvard Health explained that a heart attack or myocardial infarction happens when one of the heart’s coronary arteries becomes blocked.
In contrast, a stroke interrupts the brain’s blood supply rather than the heart. Consequently, brain cells are deprived of oxygen and nutrients, resulting in a wide range of symptoms that differ from heart attacks.
So, even if you are familiar with the signs of a heart attack–like crushing chest pain or discomfort in the left arm, shoulder, or jaw–you should also be aware of symptoms associated with a stroke. While heart attack symptoms often come on quickly and are hard to ignore, that isn’t always the case when it comes to strokes.
Having said that, what are the top warning signs of a stroke? Let’s take a look–it could save your life.
Warning Signs That Show A Stroke Is Coming
Nearly 87% of all strokes are considered to be ischemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Further, an ischemic stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain, via the artery that carries oxygen-rich blood, is impeded.
Before ischemic strokes, patients may also have experienced transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). Although the TIA is known as a mini-stroke, obstructing brain blood flow for only a few moments, the CDC claimed it is a warning sign of a more serious stroke to come.
According to a study published in the American Academy of Neurology, warning signs of an ischemic stroke can be detected up to seven days prior to its occurrence.
Within this study, researchers tracked 2,416 people who had suffered an ischemic stroke. Among the 2,416 participants, 549 had a TIA within seven days before their ischemic stroke. In addition, 17% of the patients experienced the TIA on the same day, 9% the day before, and 43% within seven days before the stroke.
Although these numbers may sound concerning, there are six warning signs that will help you predict if a stroke is coming.
1. High Blood Pressure
As with a heart attack, high blood pressure can also put you at risk for a stroke. Consequently, due to high blood pressure your nerves and blood vessels weaken and become more susceptible to leaks and ruptures. Furthermore, it’s high blood pressure that causes blood clots in the bloodstream, causing the arteries to swell and burst, which results in a stroke.
2. Vision Problems
3. Numbness Or Weakness
Although it is certainly worrisome if you experience sudden numbness or weakness anywhere on your body, it is particularly concerning if it’s only one side. Occasionally, there is a possibility of paralysis on the opposite side of the brain from where the stroke occurred. Seek medical attention immediately if you experience sudden numbness or weakness in your face, arms, or legs.
A stroke sufferer may also experience dizziness, which can lead to a lack of coordination. Furthermore, stroke victims may feel fatigued and have difficulty keeping their balance. In some cases, they may feel confused, depending on which side of the brain the stroke occurred.
5. Migraine Or Severe Headache
Stroke victims commonly experience sudden severe headaches due to ruptured, torn, or blocked blood vessels in the brain. These headaches will usually appear very quickly and without cause.
6. Neck Stiffness Or Shoulder Pain
An injury to the blood vessels of the brain can cause severe neck stiffness and shoulder pain. Get immediate medical care if your stiffness and pain prevent you from touching your chin to your chest.
Top Stroke Risks
Despite the fact that strokes can occur at any age, certain things can make people more susceptible to them including conditions, family history, and lifestyle.
According to the CDC, having high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, or sickle cell anemia increases the chance of having a stroke. In addition, lifestyle factors–such as unhealthy eating habits, physical inactivity, obesity, excessive alcohol consumption, and using tobacco–can also make a stroke more likely.
Despite these factors, there are steps you can take to prevent or lower your risk of having a stroke. In addition, by learning the warning signs of an impending stroke, you can save your own life or the life of someone you love.