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Stroke (cont.)

Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms of a stroke depend on what part of the brain and how much of the brain tissue is affected.

  • Stroke symptoms usually come on suddenly -- in minutes to an hour.
  • There is usually no pain associated with the symptoms.
  • The symptoms may come and go, go away totally, or get worse over the course of several hours.
  • If the symptoms go away completely in a short time (fewer than 24 hours), the episode is called a transient ischemic attack (TIA).
  • One-third of all strokes occur during sleep, so people first notice the symptoms when they wake up; this situation makes it difficult to time when the stroke actually began.

Eight common symptoms of stroke are:

  1. Weakness in the arm or leg or both on the same side: This can range from total paralysis to a very mild weakness. Complete numbness or a pins-and-needles feeling may be present on one side of the body or part of one side of the body.
  2. Weakness in the muscles of the face: The face may droop or look lopsided. Speech may be slurred because the patient can't control the movement of their lips or tongue.
  3. Difficulty speaking: The patient can't speak, speech may be very slurred, or when the person speaks, the words sound fine but do not make sense.
  4. Coordination problems: The patient may seem uncoordinated and stumble or have difficulty walking or difficulty picking up objects.
  5. Dizziness: The patient may feel drunk or dizzy or have difficulty swallowing.
  6. Vision problems: The patient may develop difficulty with vision, such as double vision, loss of peripheral (side) vision, or blindness. (Blurred vision by itself is not usually a symptom of stroke.)
  7. Sudden headache: A sudden, severe headache may strike like "a bolt out of the blue."
  8. Loss of consciousness: The patient may become unconscious or hard to arouse and could die.

When to Seek Medical Care

Stroke is a medical emergency. If you think you are having a stroke or a person with you is having a stroke, immediately call 9-1-1 for an ambulance and transport to a hospital's emergency department; do not delay in making the call to 9-1-1.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/4/2016

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Stroke, Ischemic »

Stroke is characterized by the sudden loss of blood circulation to an area of the brain, resulting in a corresponding loss of neurologic function.

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