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Five Signs of Stroke You Should Never Ignore, No Matter What Your Age

stroke, stroke symptoms

Do you know the symptoms of a stroke? Less than one third of Americans can name even one. Quickly recognizing the signs and seeking immediate medical care can save your life or the life of a loved one.

During National Stroke Awareness Month, the National Stroke Association wants to encourage every person to learn and understand the signs and symptoms of a stroke in its early stages while there is still time to prevent damage. Each year an estimated 795,000 people in the US experience stroke and it is the fourth leading cause of death. It is also the number one cause of adult disability – two-thirds of stroke survivors continue with some type of disability after recovery.
While age is a risk factor, anyone at any age can have a stroke. In fact, nearly 20% of strokes occur in people younger than age 55.

“The good news,” says Patrick D. Lyden, MD, chair of Neurology and director of the Stroke Program at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, “is that quickly recognizing the signs of stroke and seeking immediate medical care from stroke specialists can minimize the effects of the disease or even save a life. And just as important as knowing the symptoms is the knowledge that regardless of an individual’s age, those symptoms need to be treated as the emergency that they are.”

If you see any one of these “Five Sudden, Severe Symptoms,” call 911 – immediately. Remember that “Time Is Brain” – the more quickly someone receives medical attention, the better chance they have of minimal damage to brain tissue.

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• Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg on one side of the body.
• Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
• Sudden trouble seeing on one side.
• Sudden, severe difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
• Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

You can also use the following acronym to help remember the critical signs:
FAST – Face (ask the person to smile – does one side of the face droop?), Arms (ask the person to raise their arms – does one drift downward?), Speech (ask the person to repeat a simple phrase – is speech slurred or strange?) and Time (if you observe any of the above symptoms call 911 immediately)/

Keep in mind that any of these symptoms can occur in a mild, fleeting way and not be worrisome, but if any one of them comes on suddenly and is quite severe, it could signal the onset of a stroke.

To have the best chances of preventing a stroke, you should make an effort to control the risk factors you can, such as controlling conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, quit smoking, lose weight, and start exercising. To better understand your own personal stroke risk, take the “Stroke Risk Scorecard” quiz offered by the National Stroke Association and take the results to your healthcare provider for further guidance.

Cedars-Sinai Comprehensive Stroke Center
National Stroke Association