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Stroke Prevention: Know Your Stroke Symptoms and Signs

Posted June 26, 2016

Ridge Zeller Therapy's, Sarah Jordan Strong, M.S., CCC-SLP, shares common symptoms and signs of a stroke: 

Understanding Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

Chances are you know someone who’s had a stroke. If you don’t, you likely will in the future.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S., as well as being a frequent factor in adult disability.

One American dies of stroke every four minutes on average.

Information about predictors and lifestyle factors related to stroke is widely available. If you are interested, you can check out the CDC source I used to obtain the information above, which can be found here.

However, I don’t want to spend too much time going over risk factors, because the truth is that stroke can happen to anyone.

In my practice, I see stroke survivors in their twenties and thirties and often their treatment has been delayed because we generally aren’t concerned about stroke at that age.

People assume they just aren’t feeling well, and employers can be unwilling to send them home even if they do try to seek help.

This is unfortunate, because your best defense against stroke is immediate treatment.

Clot-busting drugs are the gold standard for stroke management, and they are only effective within the first 3-4.5 hours of onset. If there is even the slightest suspicion of stroke, it’s critical to get medical treatment immediately.

This means knowing the signs and symptoms and acting on them immediately.


The American Stroke Association has a handy acronym to help us remember the main signs and symptoms of stroke: FAST.

FACE - Your face may droop or become numb on one side. You can check this quickly by smiling and watching for unevenness.

ARMS - One arm may become weak. Try to raise both arms over your head to check this; if one drops more quickly or can’t be raised as far, it is weaker than the other.

SPEECH - Speech and language are often affected by stroke. Listen for slurring, difficulty coming up with words, or difficulty making yourself understood.

TIME - Time has a double meaning. First, if you show any of these symptoms (even if they go away), note the time they began. Second, any of these symptoms means that it is time to get to the hospital immediately.

In addition to FAST, the American Stroke Association lists a variety of other stroke symptoms to watch out for:

• Numbness or weakness in one leg.

• Confusion or difficulty understanding.

• Trouble seeing with one or both eyes.

• Trouble walking, difficulty with balance, dizziness.

• Sudden severe headache.

Any or all of these should trigger an immediate 911 call or hospital visit.

Listen to your body. If it seems like something is wrong, it probably is.

Many people tend to minimize their symptoms and worry about being seen as foolish or a hypochondriac, but any health care professional will tell you that we’d rather you overreact than underreact.

It’s better to rule out a hundred strokes than deal with one death or permanent disability that could have been prevented with rapid treatment.

So keep an eye on yourself, keep an eye on your loved ones, and get help right away if you notice a problem.

Do you have any tips or advice for avoiding a stroke?

If so, please share in the comment section below!

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