Skip to content

Men's Health

Know How to Spot a Stroke? Most Don't

Seconds count when it comes to surviving a stroke. WebMD tells you how to recognize the warning signs.
Font Size
A
A
A
By
WebMD Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Since mid-December 2005, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, 77, has been hospitalized twice for stroke, including a massive one that has left him gravely ill. In contrast, Dick Clark, 76, made a bittersweet television comeback on New Year's Eve after having suffered a debilitating stroke more than one year earlier. With slurred speech, he said, "I had to teach myself how to walk and talk again. It's been a long, hard fight. My speech is not perfect but I'm getting there."

These two prominent men's medical crises have turned the media spotlight on a potentially devastating disorder. But experts lament that vast numbers of Americans still don't understand the basic facts about stroke, nor are they familiar enough with the warning signs of a "brain attack" to seek quick treatment.

Recommended Related to Men

Lookin’ Good: A Man's Guide

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who’s the vainest one of all? If you think women win the prize for vanity, think again. In a recent market research poll of Americans and Europeans, 73% of the men described spending time in front of the mirror as “important” or “very important.” Only 72% of women set the same value on mirror time. Marketers have taken note. Male grooming and beauty products now represent a $30 billion industry. Cosmetic companies that once marketed exclusively to women now have extensive...

Read the Lookin’ Good: A Man's Guide article > >

In fact, public awareness of stroke symptoms lags far behind that of heart attack symptoms, several neurologists tell WebMD, even though the knowledge could be lifesaving. "People know that if they have chest pain or shortness of breath, they could be having a heart attack," says Jose Merino, MD, a neurologist and staff physician at the National Institutes of Health who conducts stroke research. "But with symptoms of stroke, people don't know them." One National Stroke Association survey estimates that one in three Americans can't name even one symptom of stroke.

Signs of Stroke

With stroke, arteries to the brain become blocked or rupture, causing brain tissue to die. 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 speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes, or double vision
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause
  • Drowsiness, nausea, or vomiting

If such symptoms appear, "Don't wait. Call 911 immediately," says Kyra Becker, MD, a stroke neurologist at the University of Washington Stroke Center at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle. "Every single minute counts. With each passing minute, more and more brain cells die." In other words, "Time is brain."

In some cases, a stroke is so incapacitating that a family member or bystander must call for help. Margo Warren, a spokeswoman for the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, says, "Sometimes, the person having the stroke is the last to know what's happening."

1 | 2 | 3

Today on WebMD

man coughing
Men shouldn’t ignore.
man swinging in hammock
And how to get out it.
 
shaving tools
On your shaving skills.
muscular man flexing
Four facts that matter.
 
Food Men 10 Foods Boost Male Health
Slideshow
Thoughtful man sitting on bed
Quiz
 
Man taking blood pressure
Slideshow
doctor holding syringe
Slideshow
 

Loaded with tips to help you avoid food allergy triggers.

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

Condom Quiz
Quiz
thumbnail_angry_couple_in_bed
Slideshow
 
man running
Quiz
older couple in bed
Video