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What are the Warning Signs and Risk Factors for Stroke?

The Five Warning Signs of Stroke

A stroke checklist

Stroke can have many symptoms. The faster a person recognizes these symptoms, the sooner hospital care can be sought and received. The main warning signs of stroke include:

  1. Numbness, weakness or paralysis of face, arm, leg: especially on only one side of the body
  2. Sudden blurry or decreased eyesight in one or both eyes
  3. Difficulty speaking or understanding simple sentences
  4. Sudden and severe headache with no apparent cause
  5. Unexplained loss of balance, dizziness, or loss of coordination, with particular concern if combined with another of the above symptoms

What Are the Risk Factors for Stroke?

  • Age (the incidence of stroke rises steeply with age, especially over 55)
  • Previous stroke or transient ischemic attack (brief episode of stroke symptoms)
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease (especially atrial fibrillation)
  • Carotid artery disease or other atherosclerosis (narrowed arteries)
  • Diabetes mellitus
  • Smoking
  • Family history of stroke
  • High cholesterol (or hyperlipidemia, a high level of fatty substances in the blood)
  • Obesity
  • Excessive consumption of alcohol
  • Polycythemia (a raised level of red blood cells in the blood)
  • Lack of exercise

Updated: January 14, 2008