March 01, 2021

Subtle signs of stroke

You may know the classic signs and symptoms of a stroke: face drooping, arm or leg weakness, speech difficulties, impaired vision and dizziness, and loss of coordination. But there are other early warning signs that you probably don't associate with stroke, according to the American Heart Association.

What early symptoms have in common is that they occur suddenly and often can't be explained by other possible causes. They include:

  • Headaches, especially if they're unusually severe
  • Difficulty walking
  • Exhaustion or generalized weakness
  • Fuzzy thinking or confusion
  • Nausea or vomiting or trouble swallowing, especially without an accompanying illness

If you experience a sudden occurrence of these symptoms without any other explanation, seek immediate medical care — especially if you fall into a high-risk category for stroke. This includes people with high blood pressure, the heart rhythm disorder atrial fibrillation, diabetes or heart disease — or a personal or family history of stroke. Additional high-risk groups include adults 55 or older, African Americans, and women taking estrogen-containing birth control pills or hormone therapy.

Overall, men are more likely than women to have a stroke, but women are more likely to show more subtle signs and symptoms. Of course, it's possible that you're not having a stroke and it's a false alarm. But it's best to play it safe and get an immediate evaluation. If it is a stroke, the longer it takes to receive care and treatment, the higher the risk of disability or...