ChristianaCare Neurosciences

Stroke Warning Signs

If you experience any of these symptoms, do not delay. Call 911 immediately!

Warning signs of a stroke are clues that your brain is not getting enough oxygen. You and your family should learn these warning signs. You could have only one, or you may have several. They may last only a few minutes. You can help lower your risk of death or disability by knowing these warning signs.

Warning signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden weakness, numbness or paralysis of the face, hand, arm or leg on one side of the body.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden confusion, slurred speech, trouble speaking or trouble understanding others.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you suspect a stroke do the FAST test to recognize the symptoms:

  • Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.
  • Arm: Does the arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
  • Speech: Does his or her speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, then it’s time to call 911.

Time lost is brain lost; with every minute that goes by, brain cells die. There are treatments which can be started in the hospital to open up a blocked artery in the brain but they need to be started as soon as possible. One is a medication called alteplase, but it can only be given within a few hours of the start of stroke symptoms. There are other treatments including emergency surgeries to open up blocked blood vessels; these treatments must be started as soon as possible as well.