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Johns Hopkins Health Alert

7 Stroke Symptoms and Key Actions To Take

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Like a heart attack, a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) is an emergency that requires immediate medical attention. Getting to the hospital as soon as symptoms start is essential, because prompt diagnosis and treatment are the key to improving the outcome.  

Rapid diagnosis and treatment of a stroke can minimize damage to brain tissue and improve the chances of survival. If you feel uncomfortable calling an ambulance for symptoms that have already subsided, remember that TIAs often are followed by full-blown strokes. 

Listed here are the possible symptoms of a stroke or TIA as well as the appropriate actions to take. 

Possible Symptoms of a Stroke or TIA

  1. sudden weakness or numbness in the face, arm, or leg on one side of the body
  2. sudden loss, blurring, or dimness of vision
  3. mental confusion, loss of memory, or sudden loss of consciousness
  4. slurred speech, loss of speech, or problems understanding other people
  5. a sudden, severe headache with no apparent cause
  6. unexplained dizziness, drowsiness, lack of coordination, or falls
  7. nausea and vomiting, especially when accompanied by any of the above symptoms. 

Actions To Take

  • Stay calm, but don't downplay any of the symptoms or hesitate to take prompt action.
  • Call or have someone call an ambulance. (Dial 911 in most parts of the United States.) Be sure to give your name, telephone number, and exact whereabouts.
  • While waiting for the ambulance, the person having the stroke symptoms should be made as comfortable as possible and should not eat or drink anything other than water.
  • If an ambulance cannot arrive within 20 to 30 minutes, have a family member, neighbor, or someone else drive the stroke patient to the hospital. Under no circumstances should the person experiencing the stroke symptoms drive.
  • Notify the stroke patient's doctor. The doctor can provide the hospital with the patient's medical history, which may be important for determining the best treatment.
  • At the hospital, be sure to list any medical conditions the stroke patient has (such as high blood pressure or diabetes), any allergies (particularly allergies to medications), and any medications the patient is currently taking, including over-the-counter remedies, vitamins, and dietary supplements. 

Posted in Hypertension and Stroke on December 28, 2010


Medical Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute for the advice of a physician. Click here for additional information: Johns Hopkins Health Alerts Disclaimer


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Health Alerts registered users may post comments and share experiences here at their own discretion. We regret that questions on individual health concerns to the Johns Hopkins editors cannot be answered in this space.

The views expressed here do not constitute medical advice, and do not represent the position of Johns Hopkins Medicine or Remedy Health Media, LLC, which has no responsibility for any comments posted on this site.


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    2014 Hypertension & Stroke White Paper

    High blood pressure, or hypertension, gives few warning signs before it erupts with major complications, such as a stroke. Fortunately, in most cases the condition can be easily detected during a regular check-up and can usually be controlled with a combination of diet, exercise, and medication. In the Hypertension & Stroke White Paper, experts at Johns Hopkins explain what you can do to manage high blood pressure in order to prevent stroke, and much more important information.

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