Stroke symptoms usually begin suddenly and depend on the part of your brain affected and the extent of the damage.
The main symptoms can be remembered with F.A.S.T., according to the NHS. It advises to look out for the following:
F for face – the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
A for arms – the person with suspected stroke may not be able to life both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
S for speech – their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
Time – it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.
The health body adds that the best way to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol.
For those looking to overhaul their unhealthy eating habits, Stroke Association has five tips.
1. Fruit and vegetables should make up a third of your daily diet. Eat at least five portions a day.
2. Starchy foods should make up another third of your daily diet. Go for more wholegrain in foods like brown rice and wholegrain bread and breakfast cereals.
3. Aim to eat some protein every day. Healthy sources of protein can be found in fish, pulses, nuts an seeds, lean meat and meat alternatives like tofu and textured and vegetable protein.
4. Cut down on full-fat milk, cream and cheese, fatty meat, processed meats, and solid fats like butter and margarine.
5. Limit salt to a teaspoon day (or 6g). This includes hidden salt in ready-made and processed foods.
While symptoms in the F.A.S.T. test identify most strokes, but occasionally a stroke can cause different symptoms.
Other symptoms and signs may include: complete paralysis of one side of the body, sudden loss or blurring of vision, dizziness, confusion, difficulty understanding what others are saying, problems with balance and co-ordination, difficulty swallowing, a sudden and very severe headache resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before, and loss of consciousness.
Mini stroke symptoms are the same as those of a stroke, but they tend to only last for a few minutes or hours. It’s important to be aware of all the signs because a mini stroke could mean you’re at risk of having a full stroke in the near future, which can have fatal consequences.
It can be difficult to know in the early stages of a TIA whether you’re having a mini stroke or a full stroke, but if you or someone experience any of the symptoms you should phone 999 immediately.
The NHS advises: “A TIA is a warning that you’re at risk of having full stroke in the near future. An assessment can help doctors determine the best way to reduce the chances of this happening.
“If you think you’ve had a TIA previously, but the symptoms have since passed and you didn’t seek medical advice at the time, make an urgent appointment with your GP. They can refer you for a hospital assessment, if appropriate.”
Heavy drinkers are more likely to have strokes, but studies have shown that drinking a little alcohol can actually decrease your risk.
“Studies show that if you have about one drink per day, your risk may be lower,” said Dr Natalia Rost, associate professor of neurology at Harvard Medical School.