Know the Signs of Stroke

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Family Features

Stroke can happen to anyone — it happens to more than 800,000 people every year in the United States. Knowing the signs of stroke and how to prevent it can help protect you or your loved ones from disabilities caused by stroke.

That’s why the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, part of the National Institutes of Health, created the “Know Stroke” campaign to disrupt stroke and help people in your community who might be at risk of stroke through prevention, treatment and research.


“Seconds are critical when someone is having a stroke,” said Dr. Clinton Wright, a vascular neurologist and director of the Division of Clinical Research at NINDS. “It’s important to know the signs.”

Know Stroke
Most strokes happen when the brain stops getting the blood supply it needs to work properly. Without enough blood flow, the brain starts to lose function. Two million brain cells die every minute during stroke, which is why stroke prevention is important. Preventing stroke protects you from developing disabilities that stroke may cause like speech problems, limited movement and memory loss.

Know the Signs of Stroke
Stroke symptoms often appear suddenly and can be easily missed. Treating a stroke by getting to a hospital quickly is critical to prevent brain damage. If you see these signs, act F.A.S.T.:

Face drooping: One side of the face droops when smiling

Arm weakness: If both arms are raised, one drifts down

Speech difficulty: Slurred or strange speech

Time to call 911: Do not drive yourself or your loved one – call an ambulance immediately if you notice one or more of these signs

Learning these stroke symptoms can help disrupt stroke before it disrupts your (or someone else’s) life. Other signs to look for include sudden numbness, confusion, difficulty seeing, difficulty walking and severe headache, especially one that occurs in a split second, called a thunder-clap headache. Remember stroke is always an emergency that requires fast action and medical treatment.

Know How to Prevent Stroke
Some medical conditions and lifestyle considerations can put you at higher risk for stroke. For example, high blood pressure is the leading cause of stroke. Stroke can be prevented by effectively treating high blood pressure as well as high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes, smoking and obesity. There are several ways to lower your risk for stroke:

Treat high blood pressure

Exercise regularly

Eat healthy and maintain a healthy weight

Manage diabetes

Quit smoking

Control cholesterol

Doing your best to prevent stroke from happening is the No. 1 way to lower your risk of disabilities caused by stroke. Even if you have had a stroke before, you can still take steps to reduce your risk of more strokes. Treating these risk factors may also reduce the chance of developing age-related dementia. For more information on the connection between stroke risk factors and dementia, visit mindyourrisks.nih.gov.

Know How to Recover from Stroke
As much as prevention helps lower the chances of having a stroke, it can still happen. Rehabilitation therapy is usually started in the hospital within 48 hours after a stroke. Health care workers help stroke patients relearn skills that were lost from the stroke or teach them new ways to compensate for remaining disabilities. Researchers continue to investigate how patients can restore blood flow to the brain and how to protect brain cells after stroke to improve recovery.

Know More
When you know the signs of stroke, you can help prevent a life-changing disability for yourself or someone you care about. You could even save a life. Visit stroke.nih.gov to learn more about stroke risks, prevention and research.

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