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Stroke: Know the Warning Signs and Act FAST!

Strokes strike suddenly and often with no warning. Many of the symptoms feel like less serious ailments or conditions. That is why it is important to take these signs seriously when one or more happen suddenly and for no apparent reason.

Call 9-1-1 if you or someone around you has symptoms of a stroke for any length of time.

Don’t wait! The longer you lose blood flow to the brain, the more extensive the damage.


Developed by the Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Stroke Team; Produced by the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Control Program, Massachusetts Dept. of Public Health, with funding from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Warning Signs That Could Signal A Brain Attack

When you experience a sudden onset of one or more of these conditions, you might be having a stroke:

  • Sudden mental confusion or trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the:

    • Face
    • Arm
    • Leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden severe headaches with no known causes.

Additional warning symptoms might include:

  • Sudden double vision
  • Sudden drowsiness
  • Sudden nausea and vomiting.

If these symptoms occur suddenly, your condition could be dangerous.  Call 911 right away! The longer you lose blood flow to the brain, the more extensive the damage.


Sudden Mental Confusion or Trouble Speaking or Understanding

Take note that the first symptom listed – sudden mental confusion or trouble speaking or understanding – could be particularly serious. That is because a person having such a symptom is not likely to be able to think in a clearheaded fashion, and might not ask for treatment.

It is important to dial 911 and get emergency help right away for someone who seems to be suddenly confused or unable to speak. They might not be able to help themselves.


Mini-Strokes Are Not Mini-Problems

Sometimes these symptoms and signs are the beginning of a stroke. But, at other times, one or more of these warning signs occur for only a very brief time.  Then they go away, leaving you feeling “cured.”

You might have just experienced what is known as a mini-stroke  – also called transient ischemic attack (TIA).  If left untreated, mini-strokes may lead to a much larger and more dangerous stroke.

You must still call 911 for emergency assistance even if the symptoms have ended. The next attack could be much worse.



F.A.S.T.  Mobile App can help you identify the signs of a stroke F.A.S.T.  

Stroke Warning Signs/Symptoms—Body Language (video)



Key Points to Remember

  • Strokes happen suddenly and without warning.
  • Some stroke symptoms don’t seem to be serious.
  • It is important to recognize the symptoms and act quickly by calling 911.
  • If the symptoms go away, call 911 anyway.
  • The longer you wait to get help, the greater the damage to your brain.


Hope Through Research – You Can Be Part of the Answer

Many research studies are underway to help us learn about stroke. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:

For more information:

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    This article is a NetWellness exclusive.

    Last Reviewed: Apr 26, 2013

    Associate Professor of Neurology

    College of Medicine

    University of Cincinnati


    Professor and Chair of Neurology

    College of Medicine

    University of Cincinnati


    Formerly, Professor of Neurology

    School of Medicine

    Case Western Reserve University