Do You Know the Early Warning Signs of a Stroke?

Do You Know the Early Warning Signs of a Stroke?

Stroke is a leading cause of death and long-term disability in the U.S. Knowing the earliest signs of a stroke can be a lifesaver. Every minute that a stroke continues, thousands of brain cells are dying.

The faster you get the right medical care, the less brain damage may happen. That means a better chance of survival with lower potential for brain damage and long-term disability.

Paying attention to changes in your body and telling your doctor about anything not normal is also important. Because getting treatment fast is so critical, it’s good to know not just the signs that you’re having a stroke, but the signs that you may have one soon.

See the Early Signs — Save a Life

Paying close attention to subtle pre-stroke warnings and sharing the details with your doctor may help you prevent a stroke, leaving site icon says the American Stroke Association.

Early signs of stroke leaving site icon may include sudden:

  • Severe headache without a known cause.
  • Vision changes in one or both eyes. That may be loss of vision in one eye.
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion or having a hard time speaking.
  • Problems understanding speech.
  • Trouble walking, loss of balance or feeling dizzy.
If a Stroke Is Happening

If you think you or someone around you is having a stroke, think FAST:

FFace Drooping – Does one side of the face droop? Or is it numb? Is the person's smile uneven?

AArm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? If you ask the person to raise both arms, does one drift downward?

SSpeech Difficulty – Is speech slurred?

TTime to call 911 

Be sure someone notes when symptoms first started. This will help health care providers decide what the best treatment is.

Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call 911 for an ambulance so that the EMTs can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Even if your symptoms go away quickly, get medical help. You may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA), leaving site icon also called a “mini-stroke.” Even though they’re short, a TIA is a sign of a serious condition that will not go away without medical help. A TIA can be a sign that a major stroke is coming.

Prevent Stroke and Heart Disease

Each year, more than 1.5 million Americans suffer a heart attack or stroke. More than 800,000 of them die.

The good news is that many heart attacks and strokes can be prevented. leaving site icon Making changes to your habits can lower your chances of suffering a heart attack or stroke, says the Million Hearts program.

That means picking healthy habits:

  • Eat a healthy, low salt diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Be active most days.
  • Limit or avoid alcohol.

It’s also vital to:

  • Use aspirin if your doctor recommends it.
  • Control your blood pressure.
  • Handle your high cholesterol.
  • Stop smoking.

Find out more about what you can do to prevent strokes and heart attacks.

Sources: Stroke, leaving site icon Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2023; Stroke Signs and Symptoms, leaving site icon CDC, 2022; Stroke Symptoms, leaving site icon American Stroke Association; Learn & Prevent, leaving site icon Million Hearts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2019
  • From experience I can say that it is important to be aware and not ignore the signs.  I had a light stroke here in my office last year and got through it.  Instead of going to the ER I fought through the rest of the day and felt better.  The next night I had a much larger stroke that left me unable to walk initially.  I was able to learn to walk again but I do have lingering effects that I may have been able to avoid if I had went in initially at the first event.  Take it very serious and get checked out!