Bucking popular belief Dr. Ryan Felling at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine says that strokes are not purely a concern of the old. Sure, pediatric strokes are rare, not more than 11 per 100,000, but certainly not impossible. Be it adults or children the warning signs are the same corresponding to the abbreviation FAST:
- FACE: One side of the face droop on smiling
- ARMS: One arm drifts downward when a person is asked to raise both arms
- SPEECH: The speech is slurred or strange?
- TIME: Since fast response is key, you must consult a doctor if you observe any of these signs
When the brain receives insufficient oxygen a stroke occurs. If the oxygen deficiency is caused by a blood clot that has traveled from the heart the stroke is called ischemic. Or, if it is caused by a burst blood vessel in the brain, the stroke is classified as hemorrhagic. Strokes among children split about 50/50 between the two types.
Medical conditions like sickle cell disease and hemophilia increase the possibility of stroke. But doctors don’t always know the reason for a stroke. “In 20 to 30 percent of childhood strokes, we may not find a specific cause. Oftentimes, we’ll find one or more risk factors, but not all the time,” said Dr Felling.
“Recognizing that it’s rare but possible is important. People need to take signs and symptoms seriously and get them to medical attention.” Family histories also can point to a predisposition. If a family has a medical history of vascular disease, the children are more susceptible to strokes.