Symptoms Before A Stroke.  Can You Recognize Them?

What are the symptoms before a stroke?  Do you know the five major warning signs?  If you don't have the answer to those questions, you are actually in the majority.  Surveys have shown that very few people really know clear signals of this 3rd leading cause of death in America.   And the leading cause of long term disability. 

We'll go over the symptoms before a stroke and the probability of getting one.  And we'll present some information on the various types; one of which is a very clear advanced warning of danger ahead.  This is certainly a life threatening episode.  It is not an overstatement that every minute counts.  This page will give you those warning signs to possibly provide the precious minutes.

The simplest near definition of a stroke would be a heart attack in the brain. Both are caused by sudden blockages of blood flow to the specific organ.  There are two major types that occur in the brain.

Types Of Stroke

An ischemic stroke is the most common.  As we discussed in our page about ischemia, this is caused by a clot in the blood vessel which stops or greatly restricts blood flow. Oxygen cannot get to the particular organ.

“The medical literature tells us that the most effective ways to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke, diabetes, Alzheimer's, and many more problems are through healthy diet and exercise. Our bodies have evolved to move, yet we now use the energy in oil instead of muscles to do our work.”   David Suzuki

An embolus is a blood clot that forms in another part of the body and at some point breaks off and moves toward the brain.  It becomes lodged as it enters smaller blood vessels.

A thrombus clot actually develops in an artery that feeds the brain.  It doesn't move around, but rather grows in size until blockage occurs. The treatment for these two types of ischemic strokes are usually blood thinners or clot-busting drugs.

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures,  Persistent high blood pressure is one cause along with a weakness in the vessel wall, known as an aneurysm.  Damage is caused as blood flows into the area around  the brain and by the sheer pressure that blood causes.  Damage from hemorrhagic stroke is very rapid.  Surgery is often required followed by medication.

The third type is actually a very big flashing warning sign as well.  Unfortunately most people who get this advance warning don't recognize it or just ignore it.  A transient ischemic attack is often called a mini stroke.  Nearly 1/3 of  those who have a TIA go on to have a major version within one year according to the American Stroke Association.  It is vital to recognize this warning because it gives you time to avoid a more serious event. 

The main difference between a TIA and a full event is duration and level of damage.  In the mini version,  symptoms only last a short time with no permanent damage. Because of this, many people just let it go, thinking it wasn't a big deal.  It is a big deal.  Very big.

Transient ischemic attacks are a sure sign of blood clots.  So they are the first advance call to action.The blood clot flows through the cardiovascular system lodging in a certain area causing that TIA.  Maybe it just shakes loose or maybe the body dislodges it from that spot.  But it is still there floating around looking for another vessel to block. The problem is still there.  Maybe the next time it doesn't dislodge?

Symptoms Before A Stroke

Here are the big five symptoms before a stroke.  Notice how "sudden" appears before each one.  Sudden response is required as well!

Sudden vision problems such as difficulty seeing out of either or both eyes.  You might even notice a droopy eye. 

Sudden headache resulting in intense pain for no obvious reason.

Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, in particular on one side of the body.

Sudden confusion causing you to be unable to speak clearly or maybe even to have clear thoughts.  Often you won't be able to understand words spoken directly to you.

Sudden lack of coordination that would also include loss of balance or just a dizzy feeling. 

These Symptoms Require Fast Action

"I'm OK.  It will probably go away."

If you read the message provided by Mike from the USA, you noted his first reaction to his heart attack was denial.  Sadly that is often the action taken by people suffering these warning signs or even those who experience that first TIA.  Getting to the hospital right away is the critical second step.  The first step after recognizing the symptoms before a stroke would be to call 911.  

Just as Mike's wife may have saved him during his cardiac event by getting an ambulance with trained paramedics on scene, you'll need that skill in a stroke situation.  The sooner the specialized team can see you in a trauma center, the better your chance to survive and recover.  If you missed Mike's letter, click the link below.

Lessons Learned

I'll give you some risk factors to make you aware of where you stand in terms of symptoms before a stroke.  Some are beyond your control, but several are fully within your ability to counteract.  The ones in which you have control will reduce your chances of experiencing the symptoms before a stroke.

You cannot control age.  We all get older.  Two thirds of stroke victims are over 65.  You cannot control gender.  Men are more susceptible until about age 75, but over all more women die from this condition.  And you cannot control the past medical history in your family.

But you can work on ....

High cholesterol.  We mentioned in the page about high LDL numbers how plaque deposits lead to hardening of the arteries.  This is my big challenge.  Hardening of the arteries can produce those deadly blood clots and can also lead to...

Hypertension.  This one is the biggest risk factor for stroke.  But high blood pressure causes are well known and can be controlled.

Stress.  This one goes right along with high blood pressure as an artery hardener.  Stress causes the "fight or flight" hormone, cortisol to be released far too often which affects those arterial walls.  In the page directory, you'll find a block of links related to stress relief.

Diet.  We've discussed this one over and over.  Lousy diets will lead to cardiovascular system distress every time.  But there is a simple fix.  Not an easy fix, but simple.  A proper eating plan is correct for this page topic as well.  The Mediterranean diet is the most effective and most versatile choice.

Tobacco products.  I don't know why we need to even mention this one.  Tobacco kills.  How much more straight forward can we be?

Lifestyle.  The NFL started an exercise program called "Play 60".  It meant 60 minutes each day of doing some form of exercise.   The specific target was childhood obesity.  But the title would work for adults as well.  Put in 60 minutes of exercise, not 60 trips between the frig and the television. 

An active lifestyle can help reduce diabetes and heart attack risks. These two usually share most of the above items.  Which means they carry a greater risk of suffering those symptoms before a stroke.

But now you know them and now you know to avoid the problem.  Now you know how to respond if you see someone suffering this situation.  Now you have the knowledge to make a positive difference.  The person you help save may be the one who helps develop a cure for Lou Gehrig's disease. Or maybe the one who finally succeeds in developing consistent, outstanding treatment for returning veterans.  Or maybe you save your self?

Just below are two more pages related to symptoms before a stroke.  Also please check out our pages about the Mediterranean diet, which can be found in the left margin of every page.  Many health challenges can be avoided or defeated by making the switch to this powerful eating plan.

* Top six myths about stroke and heart attack

* Ischemic stroke and tobacco

Return From Symptoms Before A Stroke To Cardiovascular System Information

Return To Mediterranean Diet Plan

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Just below is a quote from "Don't Sweat The Small Stuff" by Richard Carlson.  The chapter title is "Open Your Heart To Compassion." 

"Every day we are given hundreds of opportunities to practice compassion in action.  We can learn to be less reactive and live with more patience.

We can smile when others are serious.  We can drive our cars more carefully, pick up litter on the streets, recycle, and reduce our consumption.

We can resolve conflicts rather than create them, and we can become less judgemental and more inclusive.  When someone is aggressive, we can teach them to be more peaceful.  Instead of waiting for an example, we can be the example.

The more compassion that enters your heart, the happier and more peaceful you will become.  By knowing that you are doing your part to create a better world-whatever form that takes-you will fill any void that exists in your life, and you will begin to find the peace you are looking for."

What's New?

Just below is an article from Peter Schiff about passing the buck from one administration to the next.

Owning The Bubble

Just below is a link to look up your congressional representatives.   Let them know you expect accountability.

Congressional Representative Look Up