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Heart & Stroke

Recognizing Stroke Symptoms

Stroke occurs when a blockage (blood clot) or burst blood vessel (hemorrhage) interrupts blood flow to the brain. Within minutes, brain cells begin to die because they lack oxygen and nutrients. Stroke victims need to get to the hospital immediately by EMS transport to be evaluated and treated. The clot-busting drug tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) is appropriate for some ischemic stroke patients, but must be given within three hours from the start of stroke symptoms.

Many people don't recognize stroke symptoms. Others fail to take the symptoms seriously or seek medical attention promptly. Sudden onset is a telltale sign of stroke. Call 911 right away if you or someone you know suddenly experiences:

Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg—especially on one side of the body

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or 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

Brief periods of stroke-like symptoms that may resolve quickly are characteristic of Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) or "mini-stroke." TIA can be an early warning sign of impending stroke, and should not be ignored. TIA is an emergency; call 911 immediately and get to the hospital, even if the stroke-like symptoms go away.

11116 Medical Campus Road
Hagerstown, MD 21742
TDD: 1-800-735-2258
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