Alert
Close

Think you know AARP? What you don't know about us may surprise you. Discover all the 'Real Possibilities'

HIGHLIGHTS

Open

REAL POSSIBILITIES

AARP Real Possibilities
Car buying made easy with the AARP Auto Buying Program

DRIVER SAFETY

Piggy bank on the road - AARP Driver Safety

Take the new AARP Smart Driver Course!

Contests and
Sweeps

Dream Vacation Sweepstakes

10 weeks. 10 amazing trips. Seize your chance to win!
See official rules. 

CHECK OUT OUR
NEW IPAD APP!

ATM Mobile App for iPhone and Ipad

Enjoy the best of AARP’s award-winning publications

on the go with the new

AARP ePubs iPad App

KEEP BRAIN ACTIVE!

AARP Games - Play Now!

AARP BOOKS

Planning for Long-Term Care for Dummies

Get expert advice on planning for your own or a relative’s future care needs.

Webinars

Learn From the Experts

Sign up now for an upcoming webinar or find materials from a past session.

Learning centers

Get smart strategies for managing health conditions.

 

Arthritis

Heart Disease

Diabetes

Most Popular

Viewed

Commented

share your thoughts

What does the health care law mean to you? Your story is important. We read and learn from every story and it helps us in our educational efforts. We may even use your comments (with permission) to brief legislators, inspire readers and more. Please share your story with us. Do

Are You Having a Stroke?

What you need to know to help yourself and others

En español | Strokes can be mild or catastrophic, "but you can't tell the severity by the symptoms. That's why you have to move fast when even minor symptoms appear," says Walter J. Koroshetz, M.D., deputy director at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. "The longer blood flow is cut off to the brain, the more devastating the damage is," he says.

Sign up for AARP's Health newsletter.

Blurry vision is one sign of a stroke.

Dizziness and blurred vision are symptoms associated with stroke. — John O'Brien/Gallery Stock

Stroke symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning, or they may occur on and off for a day or two.

The optimal window of treatment is about three hours from the onset of symptoms, so it's crucial to call 911 immediately if you suspect you or someone else is having a stroke.

"Wait-and-see should not be a part of the decision process," says Edward C. Jauch, M.D., of the Medical University of South Carolina. Some stroke victims may not be aware of their symptoms or may be unable to communicate, adds Jauch, who also is a member of the National Stroke Association's Professional Advisory Committee.

Two kinds of stroke

About 87 percent of all strokes are "ischemic," and occur when a blood clot blocks a blood vessel in the brain or an artery to the brain. If administered in time, clot busting drugs can help reduce the damage from this kind of stroke, so getting treatment quickly is critical.

The second type of stroke is "hemorrhagic," and occurs when a blood vessel in the brain breaks, causing bleeding in the brain. These strokes generally need to be treated in intensive care and may require surgery.

A mini-stroke, or "transient ischemic attack," is caused when blood to the brain is temporarily disrupted. Symptoms, the same as for major strokes, last for only an hour or so then vanish.

"If this happens, call your doctor or go to an emergency clinic. Don't just forget about it, " says Thomas Sweeney, M.D., of the Connecticut Vascular Center.

A mini-stroke, he says, can signal that a full-blown stroke is imminent — maybe just hours away. After a mini-stroke, the risk of a permanent stroke can be reduced if you go for medical help, says Sweeney. Treatment might include blood thinners to combat clotting, surgery to clear a blocked artery or treatment plans for underlying disorders, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease and diabetes.

Next: When to call 911.  >>

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts

Processing

Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.

Health Blog

Discounts & Benefits

bring health To Life-Visual MD

AARP bookstore

AARP Bookstore - woman reaches for book on bookshelf

VISIT THE HEALTH SECTION

Find titles on brain health, drug alternatives, nutrition and losing weight. Do