Stroke Symptoms and Types

During a stroke, 2 million brain cells die each minute. Recognizing symptoms and calling 911 immediately is critical to survival and recovery. This guide will help you recognize the symptoms of a stroke and identify what type of stroke it may be.
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How to Recognize a Stroke

If you believe you or a loved one are having a stroke or may have had a stroke, just remember the acronym FAST: Face-drooping, plus Arm weakness, plus Speech problems means it's Time to call 911.

Watch out for other symptoms:

  • Sudden pain in the face, arm, or leg -- especially on just one side
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

And keep in mind that women often experience unique symptoms:

  • Sudden hiccups
  • Sudden nausea
  • Sudden general weakness
  • Sudden chest pain
  • Sudden shortness of breath
  • Sudden palpitations

Source: National Stroke Association

The 3 Types of Strokes Ischemic

By far the most common, ischemic strokes happen when a clot lodges in the brain, cutting off blood -- and the essential oxygen it carries -- to the area blocked by the clot.

Treatment: A "clot-busting" drug called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is the preferred treatment, but it only works within three hours of the onset of symptoms. After the 3-hour window, doctors can use a device to clear the blockage.


A blood vessel in the brain bursts, causing bleeding and intense pressure. Although the hemorrhagic type only accounts for 17 percent of strokes, it causes more than 30 percent of deaths because the increased pressure in the skull can damage much larger areas of the brain.

Treatment: Depending on the type and location of the breakage, anything from drugs to reduce blood and intracranial pressure to open brain surgery repair the vessel.

Transient ischemic attack (TIA)

Commonly known as a "mini-stroke," a transient ischemic attack happens when a clot briefly lodges itself in the brain and then dissolves all on its own. Still, TIAs, which have the same symptoms as life-threatening strokes, are serious and you shouldn't hesitate to call 911. People who have TIAs are more likely to have a full-blown stroke later on, sometimes within days.

Treatment: Usually a blood thinner and tests to try to find the cause and prevent future strokes.



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