Responsible for the deaths of approximately 130,000 Americans each year, stroke is a leading cause of serious, long-term disability.1 It is the fifth leading cause of death for Americans, and costs the United States an estimated $34 billion annually in healthcare services, medications, and missed days of work. Because chances of survival are increased when emergency treatment begins faster, it is important to know the warning signs and symptoms of stroke. Here are 5 tips for recognizing whether you or someone else is having a stroke:
- Be Mindful of Balance
If you or someone you know suddenly experiences dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination, they may be experiencing a symptom of stroke. Abrupt difficulty walking is another sign to look out for.
- Don’t Ignore an Intense Headache
Experiencing an unexpected and severe headache with no particular cause can be a warning sign of a stroke.
- Conduct a Smile Test
A feeling of numbness or weakness that suddenly strikes a person’s face, arm, or leg—particularly on one side of the body—is a visible symptom of a stroke. A notable test is to ask the person experiencing this symptom to smile, and to monitor for whether one side of their face droops.
- Listen to What a Person Is Saying
Another sign of a stroke is the experience of abrupt confusion, and difficulty speaking, such as words sounding slurred or strange, or understanding speech.
- Monitor the Ability to See
Suddenly experiencing trouble with seeing is a sign of a stroke. If someone you know suddenly has problems with their vision—ie, using one or both of their eyes—then it is possible that they are having a stroke.
If you, or someone you know, experiences any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. Remember that the most effective treatments for stroke are most effective for patients whose strokes were recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of their first symptom occurring.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke facts. www.cdc.gov/stroke/facts.htm. Updated March 24, 2015. Accessed May 13, 2016.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke signs and symptoms. www.cdc.gov/stroke/signs_symptoms.htm. Updated April 30, 2015. Accessed May 13, 2016.