MOST of us believe we are familiar with the immediate signs of a stroke.
But research suggests warning signs could appear up to a week before it actually happens.
A stroke is a life-threatening brain attack, which occurs when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off.
According to the NHS, there are over 100,000 people experience strokes every year in the UK and they're responsible for over 38,000 deaths.
And there are nearly 1.3 million people living in the UK who have survived a stroke – many of whom are now living with disabilities.
Previous research published in The Lancet discovered that strokes are up to 90 per cent preventable.
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So what are some of the warning signs to look out for?
1. A mini stroke or TIA
A mini-stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) happens when a blood vessel is temporarily blocked.
The symptoms can disappear within minutes as the blood supply returns and there might not be much permanent damage to the brain cells.
The symptoms usually include numbness and tingling in one side of the body.
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However, a TIA can be a sign that a more serious stroke is on the way, so it is important to take them seriously and to seek help, even if the symptoms go away by themselves.
About four in 10 people who have a TIA will go on to have a stroke, according to the Medical Specialists website.
2. Sudden delirium
Some people report sudden delirium weeks before they have as stroke, according to a study, published in the journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Sudden delirium, or confusion, often leaves those affected unable to think or speak clearly.
If you believe someone is experiencing delirium, the NHS suggests asking the person their name, their age and today's date.
If they seem unsure or cannot answer you, they probably need medical help.
What are the symptoms of a stroke while it's happening?
The FAST method – which stands for Face, Arms, Speech, Time – is the easiest way to remember the most common symptoms of stroke:
F = Face drooping – if one side of a person's face is dropped or numb then ask them to smile, if it's uneven then you should seek help.
A = Arm weakness – if one arm is weak or numb then you should ask the person to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downwards then you might need to get help
S = Speech difficulty – if a person's speech is slurred then this could be a sign of a stroke
T = Time to call 999 – if a person has the signs above then you need to call 999 in the UK or 911 in the US for emergency care.
What are the causes of a stroke?
Ischaemic stroke, the most common form of the condition, occurs when a blood clot prevents the flow of blood and oxygen to the brain. This is typically caused by arteries becoming narrower over time.
While arteries can narrow naturally with age, other factors, some of which are preventable, can accelerate the process:
- drinking too much alcohol
- high blood pressure
- high cholesterol levels
- having diabetes
The less common haemorrhagic stroke is caused by bleeding in or around the brain, which is usually the result of high blood pressure.
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Again, the factors which contribute to high blood pressure can often be prevented:
- being overweight or obese
- drinking too much alcohol
- lack of exercise
- stress, which can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure
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