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Warning Signs You're in Danger of a Stroke, Says CDC

Act F.A.S.T. if you experience any of these symptoms.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

You're at risk for stroke if you have high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, smoke—or don't exercise, are obese, are of an older age, among other factors. Knowing the warning signs can make all the difference. "During a stroke, every minute counts! Fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that stroke can cause," says the CDC. "By knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, you can take quick action and perhaps save a life—maybe even your own." Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


You May Have Sudden Numbness or Weakness

A man experiencing discomfort in his upper arm

You may have sudden numbness or weakness "in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body," says the CDC. "A stroke occurs when blood flow in the brain becomes obstructed. When brain cells become deprived of oxygen-rich blood, they begin to die and lose their functions," according to Flint Rehab. "The area of the brain affected by stroke determines the secondary effects that occur. For example, if the area of the brain that regulates sensation is affected, it may result in impaired sensation like numbness."


You May Have Sudden Confusion or Trouble Speaking

Woman In Speech Therapy

You may also have difficulty understanding speech, says the CDC. This may also be the result of a TIA. "Symptoms of memory loss due to a transient ischemic attack are often temporary and vary depending on the area of the brain affected," says Cedars Sinai. "Short-term memory loss is the most common form of memory loss due to a TIA. Patients experiencing short-term memory loss will have vivid memories from long ago, but will have difficulty remembering the events of the present day."

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You May Have Sudden Trouble Seeing in One or Both Eyes

Tired mature woman take off glasses suffering from headache

"After a stroke, you may have difficulty with visual processing or your ability to make sense of what you see. The most common visual processing problem after a stroke is visual neglect, also known as spatial inattention, which can affect your perception of things around you as you may be unaware of objects to one side," reports RNIB.

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You May Have Sudden Trouble With the Following Issues

Man hands on his head felling headache dizzy sense of spinning dizziness,a problem with the inner ear, brain, or sensory nerve pathway

You may have "trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination," says the CDC. "If a stroke happens in your cerebellum or brainstem, the areas that control balance in the brain, you may be left with vertigo. This means having a feeling that you or the world around you are moving or spinning. You can feel dizzy or lose your balance," says the Stroke Association.

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You May Have a Sudden Severe Headache with No Known Cause

man in white casual t-shirt, holding head with both hands, suffering from severe headache

"During a stroke, blood flow to part of your brain is cut off. Cells there don't get enough oxygen and start to die. There can be two causes. Either a blood vessel is blocked, for instance with a blood clot, or a blood vessel tears or bursts and causes bleeding in or around the brain," says WebMD. This can result in a sudden headache. Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms. 

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What to Do if You or Someone You Know May Be Having a Stroke

woman having problem with Bell's Palsy/Facial Palsy, hand holding her face

"Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need," says the CDC. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they don't arrive at the hospital in time. If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following simple test:

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 the speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away. And to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Alek Korab
Alek Korab is a Co-Founder and Managing Editor of the ETNT Health channel on Eat This, Not That! Read more about Alek