Health Center - Brain and Nervous System

Brain and nervous system problems can affect one's central command system, potentially impairing memory and the ability to perform daily activities. Learning to live with or supporting someone with a neurological condition is challenging. We're here to help. Learn about the symptoms, causes, prevention and treatment of these disorders.

Stroke Symptoms Checklist

woman holding a clipboardWhat is a stroke?

A stroke happens when a blood vessel carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or ruptures (hemorrhagic stroke). When this occurs, part of the brain no longer receives the oxygen it needs, and the tissue in that area starts to die.

Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) consist of stroke-like symptoms, which go away shortly after starting and produce no lasting damage. Even if your symptoms disappear entirely, it is critical that you follow up with a health care professional to address your risk for future stroke.

Warning signs of stroke

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, loss of coordination or balance or trouble walking
  • Sudden severe headache with no obvious cause

What to do if you think you're having a stroke

If you experience any of the warning signs above, call 9-1-1 and get to a hospital as soon as possible. Don't wait to see if your symptoms improve or disappear. Treatments are available, and the sooner you can get to the hospital, the better your chance of a positive outcome.

Risk Factors for stroke

Risk factors are cumulative, so reducing even one will lower your overall risk of having a stroke.

act F.A.S.T for stroke

Quick action can greatly minimize the damage inflicted by a stroke. If you think someone may be having a stroke, the National Stroke Association recommends to Act F.A.S.T. with this simple test:

FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS:  Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?

TIME: If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important. Call 911 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.