Symptoms and Long-term Effects
Signs and symptoms
The most common type of stroke is an ischemic stroke, which occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery or other blood vessel, preventing blood flow to the brain. Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all strokes.
The signs and symptoms can include sudden:
- Numbness, weakness, or paralysis (particularly of the face and arm)
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Impaired vision in one or both eyes
- Loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache
The symptoms of a TIA (transient ischemic attack or "mini-stroke") are the same. But, since the blockage is temporary, they may last for only a few minutes. After that, the symptoms disappear without leaving any permanent damage.
During a stroke, blood supply to the brain is more significantly blocked than in a TIA, and for a longer period of time, which can lead to more serious or permanent damage.
Identify symptoms of stroke and TIA ("mini-stroke")
Use the symptom map to help identify many of the possible symptoms of a TIA (transient ischemic attack or "mini-stroke") or stroke due to a blood clot. Click on each point to learn more about symptoms of a TIA or stroke that may affect different areas of your body.
Select a point to learn about symptoms of a TIA or stroke that affect that part of the body.
HeadHeadache: Headaches associated with a TIA or stroke are usually sudden and severe. Along with the headache, you may also have a stiff neck, pain in your face or between your eyes, and you may vomit or pass out.
HeadConfusion, trouble understanding, or loss of memory: You may suddenly feel confused or not understand what people are saying to you. You may also have memory problems.
HeadChanges in personality, mood, or emotions: You may experience sudden changes in the way you feel. Or, others may notice a sudden shift in your personality.
HeadChanges in alertness: You may suddenly feel very sleepy. Or, you may become less responsive to others around you, or even pass out.
EyesVision changes: You may start seeing double or “blackened” vision. Your eyesight may be blurry. Or, you may lose all or part of your vision.
EarsChanges in hearing: You may experience sudden changes in your ability to identify sounds and distinguish them from other sounds.
CheekDrooping face: One side of your face may seem to droop down.
CheekFacial pain: You may experience pain in your face along with a sudden, severe headache.
MouthProblems with speaking: You, or others around you, may notice that you're slurring your speech or that you can't seem to find the right words to explain what you're feeling (called aphasia).
MouthProblems with swallowing: You may suddenly find it difficult to swallow, or things may begin to taste different than usual.
NeckStiff neck: Your neck may suddenly feel stiff. The stiffness may come along with a sudden, severe headache.
ArmsOne-sided paralysis, weakness, or numbness: You may suddenly feel numb or weak on one side of your body. Or, you may not be able to move that side. A good test of this is to try to raise both of your arms over your head. If one arm falls, you may be having a TIA or stroke.
HandChanges in sensation: You may have a sudden change in the way you feel sensations such as touch, pain, temperature, or pressure. Or, you may not be able to recognize what you're feeling (called agnosia).
HandProblems using your hands: You may suddenly feel clumsy, or find it difficult to perform tasks such as writing.
Bladder/bowelsLoss of bowel or bladder control: You may suddenly lose control over your bladder or bowels.
LegProblems with walking: You may suddenly feel weak or numb on one side of your body. Or, you may feel dizzy, clumsy, and uncoordinated, or like you're moving (called vertigo). You may also stumble or lose your balance.
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Stroke is a leading cause of long-term disability. A stroke can cause a range of damage—depending on the part of the brain affected. A patient may experience some of the following common long-term effects of stroke:
- Weakness or paralysis of one side of the body
- Emotional problems such as depression
- Cognitive difficulties (trouble with thinking, understanding, learning, or remembering)
- Difficulty with speech
In addition to the lasting effects of stroke, it's important to remember that having a stroke or TIA increases the risk of a future stroke.
- Of the 795,000 Americans who suffer from a stroke each year, up to 1 out of every 4 will have a recurrent stroke within 5 years.
- Up to 1 out of every 4 people who have a stroke will have a recurrent stroke within 5 years.
Remember—having a stroke or TIA is an emergency. If you experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 or a medical emergency number immediately.
Next: Risk Factors for Stroke
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