What Are the Warning Signs of Stroke?

What Are the Warning Signs of Stroke?

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  • Stroke: An Urgent Matter

    Stroke: An Urgent Matter

    The ability to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke can mean the difference between life and death.

    According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), in the United States, stroke is the third-leading reason that people die.

    Acting fast makes a difference, too. To prevent death or long-term disability, the NIH emphasizes the importance of getting emergency help within an hour.

    Click through the slideshow to learn the warning signs of stroke.

  • Act FAST

    Act FAST

    The National Stroke Association (NSA) suggests using the term “FAST” to help you recognize common stroke symptoms:

    • “F” stands for “Face.” If you notice a droop or uneven smile on a person’s face, this is a warning sign.
    • “A” stands for “Arms.” Arm numbness or weakness can be a warning sign of stroke. You can ask the person to raise their arms if you are unsure—if an arm moves down and they can’t hold it steady, this is a warning sign.

    Explanation of the “FAST” acronym continues on the next slide.

  • More Signs

    More Signs

    After checking face and arms, remember these warning signs as well:

    • “S” stands for “Speech Difficulty.” Slurred speech can indicate that the person is having a stroke. See if you can understand what they are saying. Try asking them to say something simple like “How are you?” If the person seems confused, this is a warning sign.
    • “T” is for “Time.” If someone is experiencing stroke symptoms in their face or arms, or through their speech, time is of the essence. Call 9-1-1. There is no time to waste.
  • What to Note About Warning Signs

    What to Note About Warning Signs

    If you notice stroke warning signs in someone, your actions can make a difference in that person’s treatment and recovery. 

    After you call 9-1-1, check to see what time you first noticed the warning signs. The emergency crew can use this information to help determine the most helpful type of treatment.

    For example, certain types of medicine need to be taken within three hours of the start of stroke symptoms. This medicine can help prevent disability or death from stroke.

  • Symptoms Are Sudden

    Symptoms Are Sudden

    Another thing to be aware of is how quickly the symptoms start.

    According to the NIH, what’s unique about stroke symptoms is that they come on suddenly, without warning.

    Each of these symptoms may arise quickly when someone is having a stroke:

    • numbness or weakness in certain body parts, like the face, arm, or leg
    • trouble talking or communicating
    • confusion or dizziness
    • vision problems
    • difficulty walking
    • sharp headache
  • Don’t Wait

    Don’t Wait

    What if you notice that someone is having just one of the warning signs for stroke?

    Maybe their face is drooping, but they can still walk and talk fine, and there’s no weakness in their arms or legs.

    It’s still important to call 9-1-1 or get the person to a hospital right away. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you don’t have to exhibit all of the warning signs to be having a stroke.

  • Reasons for Speed

    Reasons for Speed

    You may be reluctant to call 9-1-1 if you aren’t sure whether someone is having a stroke.

    But the NIH’s National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke found patients who were treated with a blood-clot-dissolving drug within three hours of symptoms had a major advantage.

    These patients had at least a 30 percent greater chance of recovering without major disability.

  • Call for Help

    Call for Help

    The AHA notes that many people may worry about troubling others or causing inconvenience by dialing 9-1-1 if they suspect a stroke. 

    But it’s important to act fast if there is any chance you’re seeing the warning signs of a stroke. Speedy treatment can improve chances for full recovery.

    So remember to think FAST, act quickly, and get emergency help if you notice any stroke warning signs.