Signs of Stroke

With stroke, time is critical. Quick action can improve chances of recovery.

If you or a loved one is having a stroke, time can mean the difference between life and death or long-term disability. There are distinct signs to be aware of if you think you or someone else is having a stroke. Becoming familiar with these signs and knowing what to do in the event of a stroke is crucial in the recovery process.

Spot a Stroke

Learn more from the American Stroke Association about using F.A.S.T. as an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke.

man with headache stroke symptom

How can you know if someone is having a stroke?

The National Stroke Association developed the acronym F.A.S.T. to remember the symptoms of stroke and ways to determine if someone is having a stroke.

If you believe someone might be having a stroke:

  • F= Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A=Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S=Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T=Time: If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 9-1-1. Studies show stroke patients who arrive at the hospital by ambulance receive quicker treatment than those who arrive on their own.

Other signs of a stroke include sudden confusion, sudden difficulty seeing in one or both eyes, sudden difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination, sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Your Risk of Stroke

  • Stop Smoking: Cigarette smoke greatly increases your risk for stroke and heart diseases. Cigarette smoke decreases the amount of good cholesterol in your blood, increases the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood, and increases your body’s tendency to form clots.  This results in an increased stroke risk. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about tools to help quit smoking.
  • Be Physically Active: Being inactive and/or obese can increase your risk of stroke. Engaging in 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on five or more days per week can improve your overall heart health. 
  • Restrict Salt Intake: Consuming salt can make you retain extra water.  This can result in increased blood pressure, a major cause of stroke.  

Medicines Which May Be Used For Strokes

  • Blood Thinners (Antiplatelets/Anticoagulants): Your doctor may prescribe medicines that interfere with your body’s ability to form a clot. These medicines keep clots from forming and stop the growth of existing clots. This helps the body prevent future strokes. Blood thinning medicines include aspirin, clopidogrel, warfarin, dabigatran, apixaban, rivaroxaban, or edoxaban.
  • Statins (HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors): Statins increases the amount of good cholesterol in your blood and decreases the amount of bad cholesterol in your blood. Treatment with statins can reduce the risk of repeat strokes. Some examples of statin therapy include atorvastatin, lovastatin, pravastatin, simvastatin, and rosuvastatin.
  • Medicines to treat High Blood Pressure (Antihypertensive): High blood pressure is the number one cause of stroke and the most controllable risk factor for stroke. Your doctor may prescribe medicines to help control your blood pressure.

If you take any of these medicines or have had a stroke, talk to your pharmacist about how to take these medicines properly.

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