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When To Call a Doctor

Call911or other emergency services now if you have signs of a stroke:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, especially on only one side of your body.
  • Sudden vision changes.
  • Sudden trouble speaking.
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance.
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches.

Signs of a transient ischemic attack (TIA) are similar to signs of a stroke. But TIA symptoms usually disappear after 10 to 20 minutes, although they may last longer. There is no way to tell whether the symptoms are caused by a stroke or by TIA, so emergency medical care is needed for both conditions.

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If you've had a stroke, preventing a second stroke is a top priority. "The risk of a stroke is tenfold higher in someone who has had a stroke in the past," says Larry B. Goldstein, MD, professor of medicine (neurology) and director of the Duke Stroke Center in Durham, N.C. Prevention of a second stroke starts by addressing conditions that caused the first stroke, such as atrial fibrillation (an abnormal heart rhythm that can cause blood to clot) or narrowing of a carotid artery in the neck. Treatment...

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Call your doctor right away if you:

  • Have had recent symptoms of a TIA or stroke, even if the symptoms have disappeared.
  • Are taking aspirin or other medicines that prevent blood clotting and you notice any signs of bleeding.
  • Have a choking episode from food going down your windpipe.
  • Have signs of a blood clot in a deep blood vessel, which include redness, warmth, and pain in a specific area of your arm or leg.

Call your doctor for an appointment if you:

  • Think you have had a TIA in the past and have not talked with your doctor about it.
  • Have a pressure sore.
  • Notice that your affected arm or leg is becoming increasingly stiff or you are not able to straighten it (spasticity).
  • Notice signs of a urinary tract infection. Signs may include fever, pain with urination, blood in urine, and low back (flank) pain.
  • Are having trouble keeping your balance.

Who to see

Doctors who can diagnose and treat stroke include:

If you need surgery or have other health problems, other specialists may be consulted, such as a:

Some hospitals have a stroke team made up of many different health professionals, such as a neurologist, a neuroradiologist, a physical therapist, an occupational therapist, a speech therapist, a rehabilitation doctor (physiatrist), a nurse, and a social worker.

To prepare for your appointment, see the topic Making the Most of Your Appointment.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: March 12, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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