Stroke Signs & Symptoms

Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

When it comes to a stroke, nothing is more important than time. A rapid response from skilled specialists can make all the difference. Know the signs and symptoms of a stroke and get help as soon as possible.

Stroke signs and symptoms

Remember the signs of a stroke and BE FAST. Call 911 right away if you experience these sudden symptoms

  • B – Sudden loss of balance
  • E – Loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • FFacial drooping, usually on one side
  • A Arm drift (one arm hangs or drifts down)
  • S – Slurred speech
  • T – Terrible headache, time to call 911

Find a Doctor


Types of Strokes and Treatments

The brain needs a constant supply of blood to work. During stroke, blood stops flowing to part of the brain. The affected area is damaged. Its functions are harmed or even lost

When stroke symptoms are recognized call 911 immediately – treatment options may be possible. After a stroke has happened, the focus turns to recover and preventing another stroke. 

Stroke can happen in two ways:

Ischemic Stroke

The most common stroke is when a blood vessel (an artery) in the brain is blocked.

There are two causes of Ischemic Strokes:

  1. A blood clot that travels to the brain 
  2. Blood vessels in the brain become blocked by a buildup of plaque, a fatty deposit and cholesterol.

Treatments for an Ischemic Stroke include:

  • Thrombolytics (clot busting medicine): These medicines dissolve the blood clots that are blocking an artery in the brain.  If the clot dissolves and the blood vessel re-opens in time, brain tissue can be saved and stroke symptoms can improve.  To be most effective, this medication must be given as soon as possible.  After 4.5 hours of new stroke symptoms, this is no longer a treatment option.
  • Thrombectomy involves removing the blood clot with a special catheter.  This specialized procedure can be done only at major stroke centers (Sanford Hospitals in Bismarck, Fargo and Sioux Falls).  This procedure is indicated on persons with large ischemic strokes. 
  • Carotid artery procedures:  when the carotid artery becomes narrowed, there are several options available to open up this major vessel to the brain.

Hemorrhagic Stroke

Less commonly, ruptured blood vessels will cause blood to leak into and around the brain.  These are often significant strokes. 

Types and treatments of hemorrhagic strokes

  • Intracerebral Hemorrhage (ICH) occurs when a vessel ruptures and blood leaks into the brain tissue. Often caused by high blood pressure, lowering the blood pressure is usually required. If a person is on blood thinners, reversal medications may be given.  
  • Subarachnoid Hemorrhage (SAH) occurs when a weak spot (aneurysm) in a vessel ruptures and blood enters the space around the brain.  Because there’s a high risk of the aneurysm rupturing again, the aneurysm needs to be secured by clipping or coiling.  These procedures are done only at Comprehensive Stroke Centers (Fargo, Sioux Falls).  The classic symptom of a SAH is the sudden onset of “the worse headache of my life”    

Learn More

Sanford Health News

Classes & Events