If you think you are having a stroke, dial 911.

Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot, or it ruptures. The brain is starved of the oxygen it needs and brain cells begin to die.

Stroke has a variety of symptoms, the most common of which are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden vision problems in one or both eyes
  • Sudden difficulty walking or dizziness, loss of balance or problems with coordination
  • Severe headache with no known cause

You can use the following acronym to remember and recognize the signs of a stroke:


  • F: Face drooping. Ask the person to smile, and see if one side is drooping. One side of the face may also be numb, and the smile may appear uneven.
  • A: Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. Is there weakness or numbness on one side? One arm drifting downward is a sign of one-sided arm weakness.
  • S: Speech difficulty. People having a stroke may slur their speech or have trouble speaking at all. Speech may be incomprehensible. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence and look for any speech abnormality.
  • T: Time to call 9-1-1! If a person shows any of the symptoms above, even if the symptoms went away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to a hospital immediately.

There are many risks of stroke that can be controlled to reduce the possibility of a stroke:

  • High blood pressure
  • Smoking
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Physical inactivity and obesity
  • Carotid or other artery disease
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs
  • Atrial fibrillation (AFib) or other heart disease
  • Certain blood disorders
  • Excessive alcohol intake
  • Illegal drug use (cocaine, ecstasy, amphetamines, heroin)
  • Sleep apnea

Make an appointment with your physician to discuss prevention if you think you are at risk for a stroke. More information is available on the following websites:

National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute
American Stroke Association 

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NOTE: The health information provided on this website is designed to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the guidance of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional before starting a new treatment or to answer questions about a medical condition.