Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Know the Signs of Stroke

Photo by Trying2.
Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the United States, and it's a significant cause of disability for those who survive.

For more statistics about the prevalence of stroke, see the CDC's page.

Note: I am not a doctor.  Please talk to a licensed medical professional about how to reduce your risk for stroke. 

Risks for stroke include smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, TIAs (sometimes called "mini strokes") and a prior stroke.

In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, you should be aware of the signs of stroke in order to get medical attention quickly.

Here are some of the common signs of stroke:
  • Loss of Balance / Dizziness
  • Loss of Senses--Blurry Vision, Loss of Hearing, Diminished Sense of Touch
  • Concentration Problems / Confusion
  • Severe Headache
  • Nausea
  • Slurred Speech or Loss of Speech
  • Droopy Face
  • Numbness / Weakness in the Limbs (particularly on one side)

Twice a year, I review these signs of stroke and the signs of heart attack with my husband and his secretary.  Explore the information provided by the National Stroke Association and by the American Stroke Association.

If you experience any one of these symptoms or observe them in another person--of any age--call 911 immediately.  Know that young people can suffer strokes as well. In fact the rate of strokes for people under 45 has increased in the last decade.

Time is of the essence. 

About 80% of strokes are ischemic, meaning caused by clots, which can be treated with anti-clotting agents. However, these drugs are best administered within 1 to 3 hours of the onset of the stroke. (I've read variation in the window of time for treatment. Clearly, the sooner, the better.)

Here is a 2 minute video about signs of strokes, featuring a neurologist and actual stroke survivors:


Stroke Survivors: Celebrity Boomers
Dystextia: Sign of Brain Trouble
Subtle and Atypical Signs of Heart Attack


  1. This is a public service, for sure, Karen. My father died of one.

    1. Carol: Peace and comfort to you, Carol. My husband has several risk factors, so I am very concerned (but ultimately powerless, dangit). May you find some peace in fond memories of your dad.

  2. Thank you. It's always wise to remind yourself of the signs, for your sake or to beware of in others. My mom had a stroke about 15 years ago. She, thankfully, was okay but has significant loss of use of her left side (leg in particular). My MIL had a stroke as well and did NOT fare as well (though she's still living... in a nursing home).

    1. Lisa: Your story does support the stats that stroke is the #1 cause of disability in the US. I didn't know that until I started reading about strokes. And now many people I talk with have friends or relatives affected. Hugs to your mom and MIL.

  3. It is so important to know the signs. My friend's mother passed away last week after complications from a stroke. She was not a young woman, obviously, but extremely healthy and active for a woman her age. She had none of the risk factors cited above. Unfortunately she was alone when this happened so it wasn't caught quickly enough.

    1. Helene: Oh, my sympathies to your friend on the loss of her mother. I am sorry to hear that. I have had two friends affected this month. One is 63 and one in her late 30s. They will enjoy a measure of recovery, but it's too soon to say how much. Again, comfort to your friend.

  4. What an important piece and perfectly explained symptom identifiers!!! Everyone should read this, pay attention, and pass it on to everyone they care about! Thank you Karen!

    1. I try to remember to review signs regularly. Some can be so easily confused for a less serious malady. Thanks for helping to spread the word. You are a brain guru, so you know how crucial it is to get help asap before lack of oxygen causes damage.

  5. I know 2 young people (in 30's) that had strokes last week, a 50 yr. old friend has been fighting her way back for 11 months and another in her early 50's is also fighting her way back.
    I chronic high blood pressure (I am on meds and monitor daily) so I am terrified of strokes.
    Great information!

    1. Doreen: Wow, that's a tough road back for all three of those you know who are affected. All my best to them during their recovery. And all my best to you to control risk factors. I like your brain! (And I'm sure you are very attached to it!!)

  6. Thanks so much for posting this and raising awareness. It's such important information.

  7. Thank you for bringing awareness to this. So sorry to hear the news thoughts and prayers for your friend.