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Signs and symptoms of a Stroke

What is a stroke?

A stroke occurs when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted or reduced, depriving the brain tissue of oxygen & nutrients. This can happen either due to a blockage in an artery (ischaemic stroke) or the bursting or leaking of a blood vessel (haemorrhagic stroke). As a result, brain cells begin to die within minutes.

Damage to the brain can affect how the body works. It can also change how you think and feel. The effects of a stroke depend on where it takes place in the brain, and how big the damaged area is. Stroke can be life-changing. It can happen to anyone of any age and affects everyone in different ways.  

Immediate medical attention is crucial to limit brain damage and improve outcomes.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke.

The signs and symptoms of a stroke can include:

Weakness in the face, arms or legs (especially on one side of the body)


Trouble speaking or understanding speech

Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance, coordination

Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you suspect someone is having a stroke:

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, remember to act FAST:

  1. FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face or eye drooped?

  2. ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms? Does on arm drift downwards?

  3. SPEECH: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred or strange?

  4. TIME: If you notice any of these signs its time to call 999.

Time is critical in treating a stroke. While waiting for help, keep the person comfortable and calm. Note the time the symptoms began.

Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)

The symptoms of a transient ischaemic attack (TIA), also known as a mini-stroke, are the same as a stroke, but tend to only last between a few minutes and a few hours before disappearing completely.

Although the symptoms do improve, a TIA should never be ignored as it's a serious warning sign of a problem with the blood supply to your brain.

It means you're at an increased risk of having a stroke in the near future.

It's important to phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance if you or someone else have TIA or stroke symptoms.

If a TIA is suspected, you will be offered aspirin to take straightaway. This helps to prevent a stroke.

Even if the symptoms disappear while you're waiting for the ambulance to arrive, an assessment in a hospital should still be done. You should be referred to see a specialist within 24 hours of the start of your symptoms.

If you think you have had a TIA before, but the symptoms have since passed and you did not get medical advice at the time, make an urgent appointment with a GP.


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