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American Family Children's Hospital

Recognizing Stroke Signs and Symptoms

Stroke Alert Day
Make The Call
When stroke warning signs and symptoms appear, dial 9-1-1 immediately.
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Comprehensive Stroke Program, UW Health, Madison, WisconsinStroke specialists at UW Health, University of Wisconsin Hospital and Clinics in Madison, Wisconsin know that education is a key component in recognizing stroke signs and symptoms and implementing the quick, decisive action required for proper treatment.
Stroke affects approximately 700,000 people every year, but most adults in the United States can't even name a single symptom of stroke.
Warning Signs
The following stroke warning signs should prompt an immediate 9-1-1 call: 
  • Sudden weakness or numbness 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 and unusual headache 
And What About . . . ? 
  • Crushing chest pain: a classic heart attack symptom nearly all of us would recognize.
  • Redness, warmth and swelling near a cut or scrape: probably an infection - and worth a prompt call to the clinic for attention.
  • Sudden weakness or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body, or sudden confusion with difficulty speaking or understanding: both sudden weakness and sudden confusion are signs of a stroke.
Timing is Crucial
When stroke warning signs and symptoms appear, you should dial 9-1-1 immediately. Why the urgency?
Most strokes occur because an artery in the brain is blocked or is bleeding. Brain damage begins within 15 minutes, and most damage is done in the first six hours. But, if we can get people to the emergency room quickly enough, we have a good chance of stopping that stroke and preventing the damage and lifelong disabilities that can result.