Classic Warning Signs of Stroke
- August 13, 2022
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There are two main causes of stroke: a blocked artery (ischemic stroke) or leaking or bursting of a blood vessel (hemorrhagic stroke). Some people may have only a temporary disruption of blood flow to the brain, known as a transient ischemic attack (TIA), that doesn’t cause lasting symptoms.
If any of these symptoms happen suddenly, you might be witnessing a stroke:
- Weakness or numbness in the face, arm or leg, usually on just one side
- Difficulty speaking or understanding language
- Decreased or blurred vision in one or both eyes
- Unexplained loss of balance or dizziness
- Severe headache with no known cause
These classic stroke symptoms can last a few minutes. Or a few hours. It could be a single symptom or a combination. It all depends on what part of the brain is without blood and at what point blood flow is restored.
Other Common Symptoms of Stroke
These symptoms happen just as unexpectedly as the others:
- Pain in the face or legs
- Feeling weak all over
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heartbeat
What to Do
A stroke is a medical emergency. The stroke victim needs treatment right away. That requires quick thinking and action on your part. The medical community developed a simple test using the acronym F.A.S.T. to help people remember the most common warning signs of stroke and react accordingly.
If you think someone is suffering a stroke, give them this test:
F = Face — Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop? Is the smile uneven? That’s a sign of weakness or numbness in the face.
A = Arms — Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Can they lift one arm higher than the other? That signals weakness on one side of their body.
S = Speech — Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Did they slur? Did their speech sound strange? Could they even repeat the phrase? Trouble speaking is a tell-tale sign of stroke.
T = Time — If the person failed any part of the test, note the time and get help. Call 9-1-1 immediately. Let them know what time you gave this test so they can estimate the length of the stroke.
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