It is important to recognize the early warning signs of a stroke. Strokes are the leading cause of disability in the U.S., as well as the third-leading cause of death. The earlier someone receives treatment for stroke symptoms, the better the chances of a complete recovery. For the best results, the patient should be treated within one hour of the onset of symptoms. Taking a wait-and-see approach can make recovery more difficult or even impossible.
Know the Early Warning Signs of a Stroke
There are some common warning signs that many people experience in the early stages of a stroke. Numbness or weakness in the face or extremities is very common. In many cases, the symptoms are limited to one side of the body. Many people experience confusion and trouble speaking in the early stages of a stroke. One of the most common symptoms early in a stroke is a severe headache that develops quickly. Dizziness, a lack of coordination and trouble walking are all signs that the brain is not receiving adequate oxygen and a stroke may be imminent.
Don't Ignore Transient Ischemic Attacks
Often, someone will experience stroke symptoms for a few seconds or minutes, and then the symptoms will go away. This can be a sign of a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Roughly 30 percent of people who suffer from a stroke experience TIAs in the days or weeks leading up to the stroke. If you or someone you know experiences any stroke symptoms, it is important to visit the emergency room immediately, even if the symptoms subside. Even if the symptoms go away, the condition that led to the TIA is still there, and there is every reason to suspect that a stroke is imminent.
Look for Unusual Symptoms
Not all people experience the textbook warning signs of a stroke. Women, in particular, often experience less common early symptoms. A female who develops sudden nausea, overwhelming weakness, chest pains, heart palpitations, shortness of breath or even a sudden case of hiccups may be in the early stages of a stroke. Other unusual early warning signs of a stroke in either sex are difficulty swallowing or sudden hoarseness. Uncontrollable muscle twitching or eye movements are also early warning signals that some people experience.