Signs & Symptoms
About 795,000 people in the United States have a stroke each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Seeking treatment fast can prevent death or disabilities. That’s why it’s important to know the signs of stroke.
The acronym “be fast” can help you learn the symptoms:
- “B” is for balance. Do you notice a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
- “E” is for eyes. Is there a sudden change in vision?
- “F” is for face. Does the person’s face look uneven? Ask him or her to smile.
- “A” is for arms. Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
- “S” is for speech. Does the person’s speech sound strange? Ask him or her to repeat a phrase like “the sky is blue.”
- “T” is for time. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Other signs of a stroke include sudden:
- Weakness on one side of the body
- Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
- Severe headache
If a stroke is caused by a large blood clot or bleeding, symptoms occur within seconds. This is what happens in most cases. When a stroke is caused by an artery that is already narrowed or blocked, symptoms develop gradually within minutes, hours or days.
However, symptoms of a small stroke may be attributed to normal aging or confused with other conditions that cause similar symptoms. Whichever type of stroke, seek treatment immediately.
Certain factors can put you at a greater risk for a stroke, including:
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Prior history of stroke
- High cholesterol
- Heart disease (including a rhythm disorder called atrial fibrillation)
- Tobacco use
- Excess alcohol use
Talk to your doctor. Many risk factors are treatable and many causes of stroke are preventable.