7 Warning Signs of a Stroke Everyone Should Know

A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted and brain cells begin to die. Strokes can affect people of all ages, but more than one-third of those hospitalized are under 65. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking are major risk factors.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke emphasizes that time is of the essence when someone has a stroke. Treatment within an hour can prevent long-term disability or death. There are warning signs of a stroke long before it happens. Some of these signs can occur hours, days and sometimes weeks in advance. Here are seven warning signs.

1 Face drooping

Does one side of the face look unbalanced or droopy? We suggest you ask the affected person to smile to see if their smile is uneven or crooked.

2 Arm Weakness

People who have had a stroke often experience sudden weakness or numbness in their body, usually concentrated on one side. WebMD suggests asking the person to raise their arms above their head – can they do it? Is one arm significantly lower than the other?

3 Difficulty speaking

People with stroke often have difficulty speaking clearly and tend to mumble their words. We suggest that you ask the person to repeat what they say to make sure they are not babbling.

4 Severe headaches

According to WebMD, a sudden, severe headache can be a symptom of stroke, especially when combined with other symptoms. Note that some of these symptoms can also occur with a migraine. It may be helpful to ask the person if their headache is out of the ordinary. If in doubt, call for medical help.

5 Vision changes

MedicineNet indicates that sudden double vision or blindness in one eye may be a sign of an impending stroke.

6 Confusion

The American Stroke Association cites sudden confusion as a key symptom. This can be an unusual inability to understand others or express thoughts clearly.

7 Balance problems

According to MedicineNet, a person with a stroke may experience sudden problems with balance and coordination. If you’re not sure, you can ask them to put their finger on their nose or walk in a straight line.

Time is of the essence when you or someone else shows the first signs of a stroke.

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