Warning Signs of Stroke

If you experience any of the warning signs below for 2 to 3 minutes, seek emergency medical help immediately.

Dial 911

  • Do NOT wait to see if the symptoms go away—immediate treatment may be able to stop a stroke before permanent damage occurs
  • Do NOT call your family doctor; do NOT drive yourself to the hospital
  • DO call 911

Common warning signs:

  • sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body
  • blurred or decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • difficulty speaking to or understanding others
  • sudden severe headaches with no apparent cause
  • dizziness
  • sudden loss of balance or coordination
  • recent change in personality or mental ability


Ministrokes are called Transient Ischemic Attacks (TIAs). A TIA has the same symptoms as a full blown stroke, but symptoms usually go away within an hour or less. It is extremely important to seek urgent medical attention for a TIA because intervention may prevent a full scale stroke. TIAs are extremely important warning signs of stroke.

What is a Stroke?

Strokes, oftentimes called brain attacks, occur when arteries leading to the brain burst or become blocked. When this happens, parts of the brain and the functions they control are destroyed. This can lead to paralysis; speech problems; loss of memory, feeling, and reasoning; coma, and even death.

Treatable risk factors for stroke:

  • high blood pressure (hypertension)
  • diabetes
  • heart disease
  • high red blood cell count
  • smoking

Other conditions that indirectly increase the risk of stroke include:

  • high blood cholesterol
  • drinking too much alcohol
  • physical inactivity
  • obesity 

Non-Treatable Risk Factors

  • Age—two-thirds of all strokes occur in persons over age 65
  • Gender—men are at 30% greater risk than women
  • Race—African Americans have a 60% greater risk than Caucasians
  • Family or personal history—of stroke or TIAs

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