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  • Writer's pictureDr. Thomas Bailey, MD

Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

Stroke is a leading cause of disability of adults in the US, and the fifth leading cause of death.  It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke and to take appropriate action when you suspect you or a loved one is having a stroke.


A stroke refers to nerve injury and damage that occurs due to a blockage or rupture of blood vessels in the brain or spinal cord.  Strokes can either be ischemic (caused by a blockage) or hemorrhagic (caused by bleeding from a ruptured blood vessel).  The blockage type is much more common than the bleeding type.


You may also have heard about a “mini-stroke”.  This is also called a transient ischemic attack, or TIA.  This occurs when there is a temporary and reversible nerve injury, usually from a blocked blood vessel.  Patients with TIA have symptoms of a stroke that typically resolves within 24 hours and there is no sign of stroke when certain imaging studies are done (such as a CAT scan or MRI).


So what are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?  For the last several years, the American Stroke Association has publicized the acronym F.A.S.T. to bring public awareness to the most common signs and symptoms of a stroke.  This stands for the following:


·       F=facial drooping

·       A=arm weakness

·       S=speech difficulties (slurred, slow or absent speech)

·       T=time to call 9-1-1


Other symptoms of stroke may include numbness of the arm or leg (usually on one side of the body only), confusion, severe headache, and trouble seeing or walking.


It is important to take immediate action when a stroke is suspected.  People who are having a stroke and receive medical attention within a timely manner may be eligible to be treated with certain medications or procedures that can significantly increase your chance of surviving a stroke and limit the long-term effects of a stroke.  So if you suspect someone may be having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.


No one wants to have a stroke.  There are many medical problems, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity that can increase the chances of having a stroke.  Smoking is also a major risk factor for having a stroke.  Be sure to have regular check-ups with your doctor to monitor for and treat these health conditions.

Senior man having symptoms of a stroke


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