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Stroke Symptoms: Recognize the Warning Signs of a Stroke

What are the most common symptoms of stroke?

The following are the most common symptoms of stroke. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. If any of these symptoms are present, call 9-1-1 (or your local ambulance service) immediately. Treatment is most effective when started immediately.

Symptoms may be sudden and include:

  • weakness or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding
  • problems with vision such as dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
  • problems with movement or walking
  • severe headaches with no other known cause

All of the above warning signs may not occur with each stroke. Do not ignore any of the warning signs, even if they go away - take action immediately. The symptoms of stroke may resemble other medical conditions or problems. Always consult your physician for a diagnosis.

What are some other symptoms of stroke?

Other, less common, symptoms of stroke may include the following:

  • sudden nausea, vomiting, or fever not caused by a viral illness
  • brief loss or change of consciousness such as fainting, confusion, seizures, or coma
  • transient ischemic attack (TIA), or "mini-stroke"

A TIA can cause many of the same symptoms as a stroke, but TIA symptoms are transient and last for a few minutes or up to 24 hours. Call for medical help immediately if you suspect a person is having a TIA, as it may be a warning sign that a stroke is about to occur. Not all strokes, however, are preceded by TIAs.

What should you do if you or someone with you is having symptoms?

  • Dial 9-1-1 or activate the Emergency Medical System (EMS).
  • Not all the warning signs occur in every stroke. Don’t ignore signs of stroke, even if they go away!
  • Check the time. When did the first warning sign or symptom start? You or the person who is with you will be asked this important question later. This is very important, because if given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.
  • If you have one or more stroke symptoms that last more than a few minutes, don’t delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical service (EMS) number so an ambulance (ideally with advance life support) can quickly be sent for you. Do not drive yourself.
  • If you see someone experiencing stroke symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or the EMS. Expect the person to resist going to the hospital. Don’t take “no” for an answer because Time Lost is Brain Lost.
  • When communicating with EMS or the hospital make sure and use the word “STROKE.”
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