Do You Know the Signs of a Stroke?


Strokes are serious medical events that require immediate medical attention. Knowing the signs of a stroke and how to respond can help you or a loved one get the help you need. Prompt care increases the chances of a full recovery, and it may even save a life.

Types of Strokes

A stroke happens when blood flow in the brain is interrupted. When this happens, cells in the brain begin dying within minutes, which may lead to permanent damage. There are two main types of strokes, hemorrhagic strokes and ischemic strokes.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain bursts open. This causes blood to leak into the brain tissue and prevents it from flowing as it should. Hemorrhagic strokes can also cause increased pressure in the brain, leading to further damage.

Ischemic strokes are the most common type of stroke. This type of stroke happens when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a blood clot or narrow blood vessel. Blot clots may develop in the brain or begin elsewhere in the body and travel to the brain.

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini stroke or warning stroke, differs from a hemorrhagic or ischemic stroke. However, it’s still cause for concern. A TIA causes a temporary block in blood flow to the brain. It typically lasts 5 minutes or less. While a TIA resolves quickly, it is a medical emergency. A TIA may be a sign that a major stroke is coming.

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

Ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes have the same warning signs and symptoms and are similar in men and women. Stroke symptoms come on suddenly and include:

  • A severe headache without a known cause
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Dizziness
  • Facial drooping on one side
  • Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Trouble with balance, coordination or walking
  • Weakness on one side of the body

Responding to Signs of a Stroke

Stokes can lead to permanent disability or death if not treated quickly. If someone near you shows signs of a stroke, remember to act FAST:

  • F—Face. Instruct the person to smile. Is there drooping on one side of their face?
  • A—Arm. Instruct them to raise their arms above their head. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S—Speech. Instruct the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred or sound strange?
  • T—Time. If you answer yes to any of the above, call 911 immediately.

Check the time and write down when symptoms started. Give this information to an emergency medical technician when they arrive. It can help them determine the most appropriate treatment.

If you think you may be having a stroke, call 911 and wait for the ambulance. Do not ask someone else to take you to the hospital or attempt to drive yourself. Emergency medical technicians can start providing treatment right away, giving you a better chance of survival and a full recovery.

Lower Your Risk of Having a Stroke

About 4 out of 5 strokes are preventable. You can lower your risk of having a stroke by:

  • Avoiding or quitting smoking
  • Controlling your blood pressure
  • Eating a heart-healthy diet
  • Exercising regularly
  • Having your cholesterol checked at least every five years and keeping it under control
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Managing chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease

Learn more about how River’s Edge Hospital Emergency Room can help you when a stroke occurs.


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