What are the warning signs of a stroke?

Stroke takes over 150,000 lives each year in the United States; it is outranked only by cancer and heart disease. Recognizing the warning signs of a stroke early is critical to survival. Immediate medical treatment with clot busting therapy can reduce the risk of permanent disability or death.

However, many people are unaware of the warning signs of a stroke and may dismiss the symptoms. 

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

  • Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Trouble speaking or understanding
  • Difficulty seeing
  • Trouble walking or loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden headache

What are the risk factors for having a stroke?

  • Age – The risk doubles each decade after age 55.
  • Sex – Males are more often at risk.
  • Race – African-Americans have a higher risk.
  • Prior stroke
  • Family history
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart or artery disease
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High red blood cell count

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you will definitely suffer a stroke. However, it puts your risk higher than the general population. Taking measures to reduce these risk factors, for example by stopping smoking or taking more exercise, can reduce your chances of having a stroke in the future.

What to do if you suspect a stroke

Immediately dial for emergency medical assistance if you suspect someone may be having a stroke. Tell the call operator that you suspect a stroke and give your exact location. Do not give the victim anything to eat or drink. Do not administer an aspirin – some strokes can be due to bleeds inside the brain, administering aspirin will worsen bleeding. 

John Furst

JOHN FURST is an experienced emergency medical technician and qualified first aid and CPR instructor. John is passionate about first aid and believes everyone should have the skills and confidence to take action in an emergency situation.

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