Stroke: Don't Ignore These Warning Signs

  • An Attack on Your Brain
    An Attack on Your Brain
    Strokes are sometimes referred to as "brain attacks." The most common type of stroke happens when an embolus (an obstruction like a blood clot or fragmented cholesterol plaque) prevents fresh, oxygenated blood from getting to the brain. Nearby brain cells are denied oxygen and nutrients, so they begin to die.

  • Symptom: Confusion or Slurred Speech
    No. 1 Cause of Disability
    Stroke is the number three killer in the United States, and it causes more serious long-term disabilities than any other disease. Because a stroke damages the brain, it's possible a person won't realize that he or she is having a stroke. So it could be imperative that someone else quickly recognizes the symptoms and calls 911. Do you know which warning signs to look for?

  • senior-woman-touching-head
    Symptom: Weakness or Numbness
    Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially if it's on one side. For instance, does one side of the person's face droop? Ask him or her to smile. Or ask the person to raise both arms and see if one arm drifts downward.

  • woman under stress
    Symptom: Confusion or Slurred Speech
    Sudden confusion or difficulty speaking. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is he or she able to do so without slurring words?

  • Blonde man rubbing eyes under eyeglasses
    Symptom: Difficulty Seeing
    Sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes. It might be blurriness or the perception of a dark curtain obscuring a portion of the visual field.

  • Symptom: Problems Walking
    Symptom: Problems Walking
     Sudden problems with walking, dizziness, or loss of coordination.

  • Woman with headache
    Symptom: Severe Headache
    Sudden severe headache without an apparent cause.

  • Male Using Smartphone
    Call 911
    When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts. Ischemic stroke is the most common type, and it can be treated with aggressive clot-busting drug therapy. However, effective stroke treatment must begin within three hours of the stroke. So you should get to the hospital within 60 minutes in order to have time for testing and treatment. If you suspect someone is having a stroke, don't wait for the symptoms to get better or worse. Call 911 immediately.

  • clock next to window in room
    Act F.A.S.T.
    If you recognize the warning signs of stroke, you want to act FAST. This acronym might help you to remember what to do in such an emergency:

    • Face – Check the face. Does one side droop?
    • Arms – Check the arms. Can the person raise both arms or not?
    • Speech – Check speech. Can the person speak normally?
    • Time – If the person has any of these symptoms, then time is critical. Call 911 immediately.

Know the Warning Signs of a Stroke

About The Author

  1. What You Need to Know About Stroke. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health.
  2. Recognizing Stroke. National Stroke Association.
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Last Review Date: 2019 Aug 5
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