Stroke

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Quick GuideStroke: Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery

Stroke: Causes, Symptoms, and Recovery

What are the warning signs of a stroke?

There may be no warning signs of a stroke until it occurs. It is why high blood pressure (hypertension), one of the risk factors for stroke, is called the silent killer.

Some patients may experience transient ischemic attack (TIA) that can be thought of as a stroke that has resolved itself. The symptoms may be mild or dramatic and can mimic a stroke with weakness, numbness, facial droop, and speech difficulties, but these symptoms may only last few minutes. TIAs should not be ignored since they may offer an opportunity to look for potentially reversible or controllable causes of stroke. As well, there is no guarantee that the symptoms of stroke will resolve on their own. For that reason, a TIA should be considered an emergency and medical care should be accessed immediately.

Amaurosis fugax describes the temporary loss of vision in one eye that occurs because of an embolus of blood clot or debris to the artery that supplies the eye. While it only involves vision, this situation should be considered a type of TIA.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

Symptoms of stroke depend upon what are of the brain has stopped working due to loss of its blood supply. Often, the patient may present with multiple symptoms including the following:

  • Acute change in level of consciousness or confusion
  • Acute onset of weakness or paralysis of half or part of the body
  • Numbness of one half or part of the body
  • Partial vision loss
  • Double vision
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech
  • Difficulty with balance and vertigo

The symptoms of ischemic and hemorrhagic stroke may be the same but patients with hemorrhagic stroke may also complain more of headache and vomiting.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/18/2016

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