Stroke Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke?

SUDDEN numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg – especially on one side of the body. 
SUDDEN confusion, trouble speaking or understanding. 
SUDDEN trouble seeing in one or both eyes. 
SUDDEN trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination. 
SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause. 

If you think someone might be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and follow these steps: 

F  = Ask the person to smile.  Does one side of the face droop?

A  = Ask the person to raise both arms.  Does one arm drift downward?

S  = Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.  Are the words slurred?  Can he/she repeat   the sentence correctly?

T  = If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is IMPORTANT.  Call 911

How do I know whether I am having a stroke or a TIA (transient ischemic attack)?

A TIA is sometimes called a mini-stroke. A TIA occurs when stroke symptoms occur that last less than 24 hours. TIA’s serve as a warning sign and, therefore, should not be ignored. More than 1/3 of all people whop experience a TIA will go on to have an actual stroke. The symptoms of TIA’s are the same as those listed above for stroke. 

Should I call 911 if I think I’ve had a TIA?

If you’ve had any stroke like symptom, even for a short time, you should call 911. 
Why should I call 911 if I can get to the hospital in the same amount of time by car?

Studies have shown that EMS transport significantly shortens the arrival time to a hospital. Stroke is an emergency and it’s treatable in many cases within 3 hours of symptom onset. A recent 3 year analysis found that stroke patients brought in by EMS where twice as likely to receive a timely CT scan. Why do I need to stay in the hospital if my symptoms resolve after a TIA?

The reason to stay in the hospital, oftentimes only for 24 hours, is to prevent a future stroke. While in the hospital, the health care providers may recommend medications to treat high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease. Even if you are already on several of these medications, a few changes might be made. Also you might be started on an anti-platelet medication, like Aspirin, Aggrenox, or Plavix depending on the presumed cause of the TIA.  You will also be counseled on lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise.


Neurosurgery (SOM)

CU Anschutz

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Aurora, CO 80045


CU Anschutz

University Hospital - Neurosurgery Patient Affairs

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Aurora, CO 80045


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