Stroke

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First aid: Stroke

A stroke occurs when there's bleeding into your brain or when normal blood flow to your brain is blocked. Within minutes of being deprived of essential nutrients, brain cells start dying — a process that may continue over the next several hours.

Seek immediate medical assistance. A stroke is a true emergency. The sooner treatment is given, the more likely it is that damage can be minimized. Every moment counts.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness in your face, arm or leg on one side of your body
  • Sudden dimness, blurring or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
  • Loss of speech, trouble talking or understanding speech
  • Sudden, severe headache — a bolt out of the blue — with no apparent cause
  • Unexplained dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially if accompanied by any of the other signs or symptoms

Risk factors for stroke include having high blood pressure, having had a previous stroke, smoking, having diabetes and having heart disease. Your risk of stroke increases as you age.

Last Updated: 2009-11-14
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