Strokes typically occur without prior warning and are earmarked by the sudden occurrence of one or more symptoms. Understandably, the onset of a stroke can be very frightening, but staying calm and acting quickly are imperative and can make all the difference. If you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, here’s what to look for.

Both men and women can suffer from stroke, even if they appear to be in perfect health. Those with high blood pressure, heart disease or diabetes are at increased risk, as are individuals who smoke, have a sedentary lifestyle or are obese. Early warning signs that a stroke is occurring may include:

  • Profuse sweating
  • Vise-like tightening of the chest
  • Blurred vision in either one or both eyes
  • Weakness or inability to lift one arm
  • Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Inability to lift one arm
  • Slurred speech or droopiness on one side of the mouth
  • Inability to smile with both sides of the mouth
  • Confusion or inability to speak
  • Lack of comprehension
  • Trouble walking
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Severe, sudden headache without apparent cause
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme, overall fatigue

The type of symptom or symptoms experienced are determined by the area of the brain being affected by the stroke. If you think a stroke may be happening, time is of the essence. The American Stroke Association recommends memorizing these four tips and acting F.A.S.T.

  • Face Drooping
  • Arm Weakness
  • Speech Difficulty
  • Time To Call 911

Learning the warning signs of stroke can help save your or someone else’s life. If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, don’t hesitate to get emergency care, even if the symptoms subside. Remember, strokes are one of the main causes of death in the United States and the number one, leading cause of severe disability in those who survive them, but knowledge of the warning signs can make a difference. Stroke is no joke. Know your risk, learn the signs and act fast.    

Corey Whelan is a freelance writer in New York. Her work can be found at