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Recognizing Heart Attack, Stroke, and Angina


A stroke is also known as a "brain attack." Arteries to the brain become blocked or rupture, causing brain cells to die. Getting medical treatment within an hour after symptoms begin can reduce disability following a stroke. Strokes can cause permanent brain damage and paralysis.

If you or someone near you has stroke symptoms, call 911 right away and get to an emergency room as soon as possible, preferably within an hour, experts say. Every minute counts; the longer a stroke continues, the greater the potential damage.

Stroke symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially if it occurs on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, double vision
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Some people confuse stroke symptoms with vision problems, Daya says. People with diabetes may attribute confusion and weakness to low blood sugar rather than a stroke. Because many people are unfamiliar with stroke symptoms, they may not call 911 quickly. Some research shows that people often wait 3-6 hours before seeking help.

Make sure everyone in your household knows how to recognize stroke symptoms so that they can call 911 if the person with symptoms is unable to do so.

Reviewed on March 01, 2007

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