If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a stroke, call 911 immediately. Brain damage can begin within minutes, and quick treatment can help increase the chances of a full and meaningful recovery.

Signs & Symptoms of a Stroke

An easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of stroke is to B.E.F.A.S.T. 

B = Balance - Does the person complain of sudden onset unsteadiness, dizziness or difficulty walking? 
E = Eyes - Does the person complain of narrowing vision, blurred vision, seeing dark or bright spots? 
F = Face - Ask the person to smile & show their teeth. Is the smile even or lop-sided? 
A = Arms - Ask the person to raise both arms and hold them straight out. Does one arm drift downward? 
S = Speech - Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Do words sound slurred or garbled? 
T = Time - Knowing the time when the person was last seen “normal” helps determine the course of treatment and improve outcomes.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked (ischemic) or bleeds (hemorrhagic). Blood carrying oxygen can't get to the brain and brain cells start to die. Damaged areas of the brain can lead to loss of bodily functions, such as speech, arm movement and sight, can be impaired.

Types of Strokes

  • Ischemic stroke – An ischemic stroke happens when there’s a clot or obstruction blocking the supply of blood going to your brain. Eighty-seven percent of all strokes are ischemic.
  • Hemorrhagic stroke – A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel ruptures.
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA) – A transient ischemic attack or TIA is caused by a temporary clot. It’s often referred to as a “mini-stroke” and serves as a warning stroke. TIAs should be taken very seriously.

Diagnosing & Treating a Stroke

Typically, a CT scan is the first test performed, during or after a stroke. A CT scan will show whether the stroke was caused by a blocked artery or by a leaking or ruptured artery.  

For a stroke caused by a clot or blockage, doctors might use:

  • A clot-dissolving medicine called tissue plasminogen activator (tPA), given through the patient’s vein. Tissue plasminogen activator needs to be used within three hours of having a stroke. That’s why it’s critical to identify a stroke and seek treatment right away.
  • Intra-arterial thrombolytics (IA) may be given as long as eight hours after the first stroke symptom. In this procedure, a catheter is guided through the patient’s leg to the site of the clot. The clot-dissolving medication is then delivered directly onto the clot.
  • Special procedures to reach the clot and remove or break it up.

Treatment for a stroke caused by a leaking or ruptured artery includes:

  • Efforts to control bleeding, reduce pressure on the brain and stabilize vital signs, especially blood pressure.
  • Surgery and non-surgical methods to repair the leak or rupture.
  • Surgery to remove the blood that has built up inside the brain and to lower pressure inside the head.


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