How to Tell if Someone Is Having a Stroke

Signs of stroke to watch for and what to do
emergency_room_drop_off

Quick summary

According to the American Heart Association, a stroke occurs every 45 seconds. But there's good news: Even if you or someone you know suffers a stroke, immediate treatment can greatly reduce the damage. For many strokes, treatment with intravenous clot-busting drugs can make a significant difference. The catch? These drugs need to be administered within three hours of the onset of stroke symptoms. And the sooner treatment starts, the better the outcome.

Find Senior Living Near You -> Search Here.

To give someone the best possible chance of recovery, you should familiarize yourself with the warning signs of stroke. Remember that not all strokes are the same. Even if a friend or someone in your family has had a stroke before, a second stroke or a stroke in another family member might not have the same symptoms.

What to do if someone shows signs of having a stroke

It's common for someone having a stroke to try to downplay the situation because he's embarrassed and doesn't want to cause a scene for no reason. Take charge and call for help even if he tries to talk you out of it. Don't wait to see if his symptoms go away -- and call even if his symptoms suddenly disappear. He may be having a transient ischemic attack (TIA), or ministroke, which is itself a warning sign that a full-blown stroke may be on the horizon.

If you notice one or more of the following stroke signs, call 911 right away. Make a note of the exact time when symptoms began; this information can be extremely helpful for the emergency room personnel.

 

Stroke sign #1: Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg -- especially on one side of the body

 

You may notice that the stroke victim's mouth suddenly looks "uneven." Ask him to smile and see if one side droops. He may have difficulty moving his arm or controlling his fingers. Have him close his eyes and raise both arms to see if one of them drifts downward.

 

Stroke sign #2: Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

 

Language problems are among the most common signs of stroke. Someone having a stroke may suddenly begin slurring his speech or have trouble speaking. He may not be able to understand what you're saying to him. Ask him to repeat a simple sentence back to you, such as "I went to the store today." If he has difficulty getting the words out, the cause could be a stroke.

 

Stroke sign #3: Sudden vision trouble in one or both eyes

 

Vision problems that come on suddenly is another common stroke symptom. What to look for: Someone having a stoke may not be able to see clearly out of one eye, or may have difficulty looking to the right or left. He may complain of blurry or double vision.
 

 

Stroke sign #4: Sudden difficulty walking, loss of balance or coordination, dizziness

 

Walking as if intoxicated, stumbling, or even falling down are all stroke symptoms. Other similar signs to watch for: Walking with legs spread apart or a sudden loss of fine motor ability, such as an inability to write.
 

 

Stroke sign #5: Sudden severe headache with no known cause

 

A headache is not necessarily a stroke symptom. But if a headache strikes unexpectedly or seems unusually intense, it's reason for concern. If a stiff neck, facial pain, or vomiting accompanies the headache, the cause could be an intracranial hemorrhage, also known as a "red stroke."

Not all of these warning signs occur with every stroke. Don't ignore stroke symptoms even if they disappear. And don't let the person talk you out of calling 911. Tell him you understand that he's upset, but you're going to call anyway because you love him. The most precious gift you can give someone who's having a stroke is immediate treatment.

7 months ago, said...

My grandmother had a stroke in front of the whole family. ..she was just talking for a minute and next thing u know..she's laid out on the couch dead. We didn't know what was happening. .the thing is that she knew that she was going to die.she just didn't want to tell the family..because we wouldn't let her be by herself..ohh.another thing, ,she wasn't by herself while having a stroke. .and God take care of my beautiful and caring grandma for me please... My grandmother had a stroke in front of the whole family. ..she was just talking for a minute and next thing u know..she's laid out on the couch dead. We didn't know what was happening. .the thing is that she knew that she was going to die.she just didn't want to tell the family..because we wouldn't let her be by herself..ohh.another thing, ,she wasn't by herself while having a stroke. .and God take care of my beautiful and caring grandma for me please... Hide

8 months ago, said...

I don't know what to do? My dad seemed unusually confused last night. It lasted about thirty seconds. He's had a hard time getting words out, he seemed like he had a hard time with his sight. It actually scares me, because he had a hard time understanding what I was saying. It was right after he woke up. I don't know what to do? My dad seemed unusually confused last night. It lasted about thirty seconds. He's had a hard time getting words out, he seemed like he had a hard time with his sight. It actually scares me, because he had a hard time understanding what I was saying. It was right after he woke up. Hide

over 1 year ago, said...

My husband had a TIA three days ago. Since it was obvious he was having a stroke, I rushed him to the ER. They took him in immediately and five Drs. and nurses hovered over him, they did a cat scan. Since he is in his 15th year of metatastic prostate cancer, they were afraid to give him the stroke medicine and since they had time within the 3 hour period, the did an MRI to rule out whether the cancer had metatacized to the brain. By the time they finished the tests, he'd regained feeling in... Show more My husband had a TIA three days ago. Since it was obvious he was having a stroke, I rushed him to the ER. They took him in immediately and five Drs. and nurses hovered over him, they did a cat scan. Since he is in his 15th year of metatastic prostate cancer, they were afraid to give him the stroke medicine and since they had time within the 3 hour period, the did an MRI to rule out whether the cancer had metatacized to the brain. By the time they finished the tests, he'd regained feeling in his face and hand and it appeared the stroke was over, but they admitted him to the hospital for overnight observation then sent him home to return the next day for more tests. At the end of one of the tests he was dizzy, his left and and the left side of his face were numb again. From the onset of the 1st TIA he had a violent headache which never abated. They rushed him from the cardiology dept. to the ER which was just down the hall and readmitted him and did another round of tests. They couldn't find a clot during either CT scan. They did give him a shot that cured the headache and sent him home again. Will he just have to live with TIAs. Any feedback for suggestions will be welcome. Hide

almost 2 years ago, said...

My sister is embarrassed I had a stroke and she's a nurse My sister is embarrassed I had a stroke and she's a nurse Hide

over 2 years ago, said...

yes these articles were very helpful thank you kimmy yes these articles were very helpful thank you kimmy Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

I have been having what I call a "low grade" headache off and on for about a month. My doctor ordered a CT scan but it showed nothing abnormal. Today I've had another "low grade" headache along with blurry vision and watering of my left eye. Not sure what to make of it but did take two baby asprin. Has anyone else had a similar experiences and if so, what was the outcome? Thanks I have been having what I call a "low grade" headache off and on for about a month. My doctor ordered a CT scan but it showed nothing abnormal. Today I've had another "low grade" headache along with blurry vision and watering of my left eye. Not sure what to make of it but did take two baby asprin. Has anyone else had a similar experiences and if so, what was the outcome? Thanks Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

Wish I'd read this a year ago. At 53yrs. I suffered 3 mini strokes over several months. About 2 months after the last one I suffered a brain bleed stroke. I didn't realize the seriousness of the mini strokes and didn't seek medical help immediately. I'm very grateful that I wasn't left with any problems except a bit of forgetfullness that I was told was probably just an age thing .Much wiser now! Wish I'd read this a year ago. At 53yrs. I suffered 3 mini strokes over several months. About 2 months after the last one I suffered a brain bleed stroke. I didn't realize the seriousness of the mini strokes and didn't seek medical help immediately. I'm very grateful that I wasn't left with any problems except a bit of forgetfullness that I was told was probably just an age thing .Much wiser now! Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

Howewver, any chance o maintaining anti-clot injection at home? Howewver, any chance o maintaining anti-clot injection at home? Hide

over 3 years ago, said...

I had massive multiple bloodclots in both lungs & a saddle "egg yolk" at the Y of my lungs & a clot in my left leg behind the knee, that came on during a flight. I was 47 at the time & "relatively healthy," even though I had breast cancer 6 years before (2 surgeries & radiation - refused the chemo & Tamoxofin - totally cancer free now, Praise God!) I died on the table while they were putting in the clot filter, to prevent any future clots from traveling to my brain. HEAVEN IS REAL!!! I... Show more I had massive multiple bloodclots in both lungs & a saddle "egg yolk" at the Y of my lungs & a clot in my left leg behind the knee, that came on during a flight. I was 47 at the time & "relatively healthy," even though I had breast cancer 6 years before (2 surgeries & radiation - refused the chemo & Tamoxofin - totally cancer free now, Praise God!) I died on the table while they were putting in the clot filter, to prevent any future clots from traveling to my brain. HEAVEN IS REAL!!! I was in ICU for 5 days, the hospital for 10 days, out of work for 10 months, only to throw another clot from my left leg, even though I was turning into a pincushion from getting my blood checked twice a week to regulate the Warfin. Now 14 months out of work. I had flipped my diet for the cancer to: no fast food, soda salt fried; nothing white (sugar, bread, potatoes, rice). Good foods only: salads, broccoli, ginger green tea every day, etc. It took alittle getting used to, but I felt great! Then, with the Warfin, the doctor said ALL those foods were on the do not eat list. I cried. I had NO idea what to eat! I live on yogurt, granola & baked chicken. You know what - you gotta die of something, I feel like crap, I'm going back to my old healthy diet & if it kills me, oh well, at least I'll feel great before I go. Yes, I'm concerned of stroking out, but I live by myself. The doctors have such a hard time regulating the Warfin when I eat literally THE SAME THING EVERY DAY, it makes me wonder... I went back to work, only to have them mysteriously fire me a month later, after being a top producer for 4 years. I've had to move twice. I'm at my wit's end! There's no testing for bloodclots or strokes, they come out of nowhere, so I'm told. I've lost a fabulous career, apartment & a few friends that got tired of being asked for money. Yes, the article helped. I got to vent. But RESEARCH to help test for or prevent clots & strokes for the next person would just be the cat's meow. PRAISE GOD, ACCEPT JESUS & CELEBRATE LIFE! Hide

about 4 years ago, said...

Thank you very much for those kind and useful information about the symptoms of stroke.however,i still want to ask if it is possible for someone to suffer stroke at the age of 35(thirty five) ofcourse i do not smoke though i drink occassionally but stopped few months ago,but uptill now i still observe severe headache,eye defection,sometimes fast heart beat as well as diziness and so much dreams.please,i need an urgent but professional advice on how to go about this because i am still a... Show more Thank you very much for those kind and useful information about the symptoms of stroke.however,i still want to ask if it is possible for someone to suffer stroke at the age of 35(thirty five) ofcourse i do not smoke though i drink occassionally but stopped few months ago,but uptill now i still observe severe headache,eye defection,sometimes fast heart beat as well as diziness and so much dreams.please,i need an urgent but professional advice on how to go about this because i am still a college student and i dont want to die now. thanks and God bless you. yours sincerely, solon. Sent from:Japan. Hide

about 4 years ago, said...

It was a very good article It was a very good article Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

I have to apologize for spelling mistakes its not me but this keyboard!!!!! I am going to say that at 73..am told I look 53 but i don't let that fool me. I really think all of us who live alone need the alert button for help.I know how hard that is to admit . but I am not sure That even young people who live alone might benefit from the service.. It does wonders for your the scare part of our personalities.Thats a benefit all by itsself. I am seriously thinking of getting the help button,... Show more I have to apologize for spelling mistakes its not me but this keyboard!!!!! I am going to say that at 73..am told I look 53 but i don't let that fool me. I really think all of us who live alone need the alert button for help.I know how hard that is to admit . but I am not sure That even young people who live alone might benefit from the service.. It does wonders for your the scare part of our personalities.Thats a benefit all by itsself. I am seriously thinking of getting the help button, I also think a pet does wonders for older people ..Mine does!! Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

Good advice i onece was in the shower when I went blind in my left eye..went to dr immediately was examined by neurosurgeon and now mrs etc. had 60 percent blocked carotid aretry. was put ne plavix ,lipitor,was already on BP meds 3 years ago and no more incidents , Made huge change in diet also . Was having symptons blurred vision lights etc. ignored them due to age and occular migraines. So glad I went to emerg room!! Good advice i onece was in the shower when I went blind in my left eye..went to dr immediately was examined by neurosurgeon and now mrs etc. had 60 percent blocked carotid aretry. was put ne plavix ,lipitor,was already on BP meds 3 years ago and no more incidents , Made huge change in diet also . Was having symptons blurred vision lights etc. ignored them due to age and occular migraines. So glad I went to emerg room!! Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

pictures of what possibly occurs within thebody, brain, heart, etc. pictures of what possibly occurs within thebody, brain, heart, etc. Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

Thanks for the internet and caring.com as well. Good health is important to everyone. May God implant the wisdom for all of us to live longer and enjoy life. Thanks for the internet and caring.com as well. Good health is important to everyone. May God implant the wisdom for all of us to live longer and enjoy life. Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

I just turned 60, I smoke, but I'm a cook, so I eat healthy most of the time. I love fresh fruit and veggies. I know the smoking needs to go, but its hard. VERY HARD! I take no medications (thank God), but I don't want to take any. I have no medical ins. or medical issues. I like reading your articles so I'll know what to do, what to eat, and how to take care of myself. Their very informative. I just turned 60, I smoke, but I'm a cook, so I eat healthy most of the time. I love fresh fruit and veggies. I know the smoking needs to go, but its hard. VERY HARD! I take no medications (thank God), but I don't want to take any. I have no medical ins. or medical issues. I like reading your articles so I'll know what to do, what to eat, and how to take care of myself. Their very informative. Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

My fiance died at 36. He was very strong.. but likes to eat junk food and soft drinks. He is medium size.. not fat., is medium active. It was just a minutes that I found him in the bathroom. No serious signs or anything. My fiance died at 36. He was very strong.. but likes to eat junk food and soft drinks. He is medium size.. not fat., is medium active. It was just a minutes that I found him in the bathroom. No serious signs or anything. Hide

over 4 years ago, said...

Could you mention the nationalities who have a high risk of stroke? - studies of their normal food diet? - You must make this article as serious as possible as some take it for granted and thinks this is just some article about beauty tips... my fiance died a couple of months ago.. and it is only now that I came tor realize how serious these tips are.. if only... I was able to sink in more of this tips and took it really seriously.. you know what I mean? Show more Could you mention the nationalities who have a high risk of stroke? - studies of their normal food diet? - You must make this article as serious as possible as some take it for granted and thinks this is just some article about beauty tips... my fiance died a couple of months ago.. and it is only now that I came tor realize how serious these tips are.. if only... I was able to sink in more of this tips and took it really seriously.. you know what I mean? Hide