Know the signs of stroke

Knowing what to look for will help you know what to do.

October 30, 2020


A stroke is when the blood flow is cut off to an area of the brain. When this happens, the brain can't get oxygen and cells begin to die. This can also cause brain function and memory to die.

A stroke can happen at any time to anyone at any age. Some people fully heal after a stroke. Stroke survivors often have some type of disability or a physical problem that limits how well they can take care of themselves. 

Strokes are also often misunderstood. Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke can help you or your loved ones lessen the effects of stroke. 

How common are strokes?

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death for Americans. Your chances of having a stroke depend on many factors, including your sex, age, race and ethnicity, among others. Stroke is also the leading cause of adult disability. 

What are symptoms of stroke?

Use “Act FAST” to remember common stroke symptoms:

F — Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A — Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S — Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

T — Time. Call 911 right away if you see of any of these signs.

Some of the most surprising symptoms of stroke are: 

  • Hiccups
  • Confusion
  • Hallucination
  • Fainting
  • Sudden weakness
  • Agitation, as in being nervous, restless or anxious
  • Vomiting

Lower your chances of having a stroke

There has been a lot of progress made about how to tell if someone is having a stroke or if they have had a stroke. Eighty percent of strokes could be stopped before they happen.

Here are some tips to lower your chances of having a stroke: 

  • Exercise every day for at least 30 minutes.
  • Eat five or more servings of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • See your doctor every year.
  • Know your body mass index (BMI).
  • Try to lose weight if you’re overweight.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Limit alcoholic beverages to no more than two drinks per day for men and one drink per day for women.
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  • American Stroke Association. About Strokes. Accessed October 30, 2020.
  • American Stroke Association. Body Mass Index (BMI) and Adults. Accessed October 30, 2020.
  • American Stroke Association. Keeping a Healthy Body Weight. Accessed October 30, 2020.
  • American Stroke Association. Stroke Symptoms. Accessed October 30, 2020.
  • American Stroke Association. Why Getting Quick Stroke Treatment Is Important. Accessed October 30, 2020.
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke Facts. Accessed October 30, 2020.

The information provided is for general informational purposes only and is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for professional health care. You should consult an appropriate health care professional for your specific needs.