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Watch for these signs and symptoms if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke. Note when signs and symptoms begin, because the length of time they have been present may guide treatment decisions.
- Trouble with walking. You may stumble or experience sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination.
- Trouble with speaking and understanding. You may experience confusion. You may slur your words or be unable to find the right words to explain what is happening to you (aphasia). Try to repeat a simple sentence. If you can't, you may be having a stroke.
- Paralysis or numbness on one side of your body or face. You may develop sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of your body. Try to raise both your arms over your head at the same time. If one arm begins to fall, you may be having a stroke. Similarly, one side of your mouth may droop when you try to smile.
- Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes. You may suddenly have blurred or blackened vision, or you may see double.
- Headache. A sudden, severe "bolt out of the blue" headache, which may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness, may indicate you're having a stroke.
When to see a doctor. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any signs or symptoms of a stroke, even if they seem to fluctuate or disappear. Call 911 or your local emergency number right away. Every minute counts. Don't wait to see if symptoms go away. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for brain damage and disability. To maximize the effectiveness of evaluation and treatment, it's best that you get to the emergency room within 60 minutes of your first symptoms.
If you're with someone you suspect is having a stroke, watch the person carefully while waiting for emergency assistance. You may need to:
- Begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if the person stops breathing
- Turn the person's head to the side if vomiting occurs, which can prevent choking
- Keep the person from eating or drinking
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