(Sources: American Stroke Association and National Stroke Association)
When it comes to recognizing the signs and symptoms of a stroke,
Face: Sudden weakness or numbness of face - is it drooping or weak on one or both sides?
Arm: Sudden weakness or numbness of arm - do they drift down when you ask the person to hold them straight out in front?
Speech: Sudden difficulty speaking - Notice the person's speech - is it difficult for them to talk, or for you to understand them?
Time: What time did symptoms start? Time is of the essence - Make sure to seek immediate medical help - every minute counts!
Other signs and symptoms of stroke include:
- Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
- Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
If you or someone with you has one or more of these signs, don't delay! Immediately call 9-1-1 or the emergency medical services (EMS) number so an ambulance (ideally with advanced life-support) can be sent for you. Also, check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared. It's very important to take immediate action. If given within three hours of the start of symptoms, a clot-busting drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) can reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. tPA is the only FDA-approved medication for the treatment of stroke within three hours of stroke symptom onset.
A TIA or transient ischemic attack is a "warning stroke" or "mini-stroke" that produces stroke-like symptoms but no lasting damage. Recognizing and treating TIAs can reduce your risk of a major stroke. The usual TIA symptoms are the same as those of stroke, only temporary. The short duration of these symptoms and lack of permanent brain injury is the main difference between TIA and stroke.
For more information on stroke, visit the American Stroke Association or the National Stroke Association's website.