Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

Blood Vessel

Every year, approximately 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke. It is the No. 4 cause of death in the United States and also one of the leading causes of long-term, severe disability. But, knowing the signs of a stroke and getting quick treatment can reduce the effects in many cases. Especially from ischemic stroke, which accounts for 87 percent of all stroke cases. Learning what to watch for and getting treatment fast is important. Those who take a clot-busting drug within three hours of the first stroke symptoms can reduce long-term disability from occurring.

Ischemic strokes, the most common, happen when an obstruction occurs within a blood vessel that provides blood to the brain. The obstruction is caused by the development of fatty deposits that line the walls of the blood vessel. This condition is called atherosclerosis and can cause two types of obstructions.

Cerebral thrombosis - this is a blood clot that develops at a clogged part of a blood vessel.

Cerebral embolism - this occurs when a blood clot breaks loose from another part of the body, usually the heart, and clogs a smaller vessel in the brain.

There are other, less common, types of strokes also. A hemorrhagic stroke can occur when a weakened blood vessel bursts and bleeds into the brain. A transient ischemic attack or TIA is a temporary blockage or “mini stroke”. While it does not cause any permanent brain damage, it shouldn’t be ignored as it is usually a sign of bigger problems and risks down the line.

The National Stroke Association recommends that you remember F.A.S.T. as an easy way to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. These stand for:

F - Face: Is there drooping of the face on one side? Ask the person to smile.
A - Arms: Weakness in one arm occurs. Ask the person to lift both arms. Does one arm drift?
S - Speech: Is their speech slurred or strange? Ask the person to say a simple phrase.
T - Time: If these signs are present, it’s time to call 911.

These are just three of the major symptoms that a stroke is happening. But these are not the only symptoms of a stroke. These other signs of stroke include:

Brain side

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in your legs, arms, or face
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding things
  • Sudden trouble with sight of one or both eyes, blurring or double vision
  • Sudden trouble with walking, a loss of coordination or balance, and dizziness
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

While the symptoms of a stroke may not seem serious when they occur, they should not be ignored. Many people don’t want to be a bother and often brush off the symptoms as not serious. However, with time being of the essence in rapid treatment, it is important to act quickly to prevent serious damage or death.