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Stroke Warning Signs and Risks

Stroke Patient Education

Your guide to understanding stroke and stroke care. Download now:
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Minutes Count in Stroke Treatment - Learn to Recognize Signs of Stroke
Stroke is always a medical emergency. It can come on suddenly, at any time and any place. It is important to recognize the signs and get immediate medical attention. Speedy stroke diagnosis and treatment can help dramatically improve recovery from strokes, including a TIA (transient ischemic attack) or mini-stroke.

The Five Major Warning Signs of Stroke are:

  • Numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Trouble seeing with one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe, sudden onset of headache with no known cause.

Use the F.A.S.T. test for recognizing and responding to stroke symptoms:

F = FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A = ARMS:  Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S = SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?

T = TIME:  If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 9-1-1 or get to the nearest stroke center or hospital emergency room for rapid diagnosis and treatment.

Stroke Risk Factors
Some risk factors for stroke, such as being male, being African-American and having a family history of stroke, are out of your control. But there are others you can do something about. For instance, conditions such as heart disease, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes make stroke more likely. Controlling these health problems may decrease your risk. You can lower your risk by getting regular exercise, eating well, maintaining a healthy weight, and quitting smoking if you smoke.

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