Strokes are a leading cause of death and disability in the UK, with around 32,000 stroke-related deaths taking place each year.
The risk of a stroke increases as you get older. Men and people with diabetes or heart disease are most in danger of having a stroke.
When you are having a stroke, every second matters. Around 1.9 million brain cells are killed every minute a stroke is left untreated, so knowing how to spot one as early as possible is of vital importance.
What causes a stroke?
Strokes take place when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain is blocked or bursts. The brain cells that are served by the damaged blood vessel are lost as they cannot receive oxygen.
As the brain controls the body, the part of the body which the affected part of the brain serves can also stop working.
A blood vessel can become temporarily blocked, too. This is known as a warning stroke or mini stroke, and is a major indicator that a larger stroke could be on the way. If you know the signs of strokes you can get treatment fast and avoid suffering from a major one.
What are the signs of a stroke?
Stroke.org recommends the acronym FAST as a way to raise awareness of the early signs of a stroke. The website says:
Face: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?Arms: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?Time: If you see any of these three signs, it's time to call 999.
A number of other symptoms are also listed by the charity.
These include a sudden weakness or numbness one one side of the body including feet and legs, difficulty finding words or speaking in sentences, blurred or lost vision, memory loss, confusion, dizziness and sudden severe headaches.
If you identify any of the early signs of a stroke or have any reason to believe you may be having a stroke, you need to call 999 immediately.