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Once a stroke occurs, it is extremely important for the patient to seek medical care immediately. If you or someone you know experiences stroke symptoms that last for more than 10 to 15 minutes, appear frequently, or seem to get worse, you should call 911 at once and ask the emergency responders for transportation to the nearest emergency medical facility.

Warning signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden weakness, numbness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, especially if on only one side of the body
  • Loss of speech or trouble talking or understanding language
  • Sudden loss of vision, particularly if in only one eye
  • Sudden, severe headache with no apparent cause
  • Unexplained dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination (especially when associated with any of the above symptoms
  • Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs)

Ministrokes, known as transient ischemic attacks, precede about one third of all strokes and can occur hours, days, weeks, or even months before a stroke. TIAs happen when the blood supply to the brain is temporarily interrupted. The symptoms usually occur rapidly and disappear within a short time. For instance, if you experience a sudden loss of vision, or weakness in an arm or leg that disappears, you might be having a TIA. Because TIAs are temporary and the body soon returns to normal, many people ignore these attacks. However, ignoring TIAs is dangerous because they are often early warning signs of a more serious and debilitating stroke in the future.

Last reviewed on 09/15/2005

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