Stroke Symptoms & Signs

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Symptoms & Signs

The symptoms of a stroke vary depending upon the area of the brain affected by a lack of oxygen. All strokes involve symptoms that relate to impairment of nerve function. The symptoms typically arise suddenly and most commonly occur on one side of the body. Symptoms and signs of stroke can include numbness, weakness, tingling, or vision loss or changes. Confusion, changes in the level of consciousness, trouble speaking, trouble understanding speech, vertigo, and balance problems are other common symptoms. Headache, nausea, and vomiting sometimes accompany a stroke, particularly when the stroke involves bleeding inside the brain.

Causes of a stroke

Stroke is caused by an interruption of blood flow to a specific area of the brain. This means that the brain cells in the involved artery do not receive an adequate supply of oxygen carried from the bloodstream. Damage to the brain cells due to the lack of oxygen causes a stroke. Strokes can be ischemic (due to a blocked artery or interruption of blood flow) or hemorrhagic (the area of the brain bleeds due to a bursting or leaking blood vessel). In either case, there is insufficient oxygen for the brain to function.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/9/2017

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Jauch, Edward C. "Acute Management of Stroke." Medscape. May 19, 2016. <>.

Kasper, D.L., et al., eds. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 19th Ed. United States: McGraw-Hill Education, 2015.

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