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Early warning signs of stroke can save your life

Stroke survivors can find help through many local and national organizations.
Stroke survivors can find help through many local and national organizations.
Photo, courtesy of Karen Bonnet

Stroke is the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer, according to recent statistics from the American Stroke Association. Each year, more than 795,000 people suffer a stroke or a recurrent stroke—three-quarters of the victims are 65 and older. The good news: there are 4.8 million stroke survivors, and the damages caused by stroke can be avoided if warning signs are heeded and medical attention immediately applied.

There is a three-hour window of time to stop the devastation of stroke,” said Peter V. Cornelis, a six-time stroke survivor and CEO of the Hicksville-based nonprofit, H.O.P.E. 4 Stroke. “Stroke is a cascading event. By calling 911, they can begin triage, a multisystem treatment effort to stop and even reverse the effects of stroke.”

He pointed out that the brain is capable of manufacturing new brain cells through neuroplasticity, a process that reconnects the neuron-endings of brain cells through physical, speech and occupational therapies, which are crucial during the recuperation period.

“It takes time, but the payoff is remarkable—everything comes back to you and your frame of mind is incredible,” said Cornelis.

A stroke is a form of cardiovascular disease that affects the arteries of the brain. It occurs when a blood vessel to the brain bursts or is suddenly interrupted, preventing precious oxygen and other nutrients from getting to the brain, causing brain cells to die. There are two forms of stroke: ischemic - blockage of a blood vessel supplying the brain, and hemorrhagic - bleeding into or around the brain. Ischemic stroke occurs in 80 percent of the country’s population.

During a stroke, the brain cells die and neuron endings disconnect, causing parts of the body to not function properly. There are several telltale signs of stroke which should be acted upon immediately:

• Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body
• Confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
• Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
• Problems with walking; dizziness and/or loss of balance
• Severe headaches with no known cause

Generally there are three treatment stages for stroke: prevention, therapy immediately after the stroke, and post-stroke rehabilitation.

Helpful resources in stroke awarenss:

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
H.O.P.E. 4 Stroke
American Stroke Association



  • Vivian Ellis 5 years ago

    Good info. Your articles are always right on the money. Read an article recently about children who have strokes and are misdiagnosed because no one thinks children have them. Interesting topic.

  • beebee 5 years ago

    just finished forwarding this article to my brother, who had a stroke about 3 months ago. if you had written it then he would have seen all the tell tale signs. it was informative and you also included support groups. thanks.

  • beebee 5 years ago

    it is very difficult for a person to always turn the other cheek when they have been hurt. after the hurting,there comes a period when you want to hurt back;so you cook that idea for a while and then time makes us not be so resentful--and that is the moment when the talking process begins --just like you stated. will try it out.

  • Ellie 5 years ago

    after husbands stroke {a bleed} did not get get enough info upon leaving the hospital on exactly what to expect such as differcultly swollowing,which resulted in choking Thank God we were with a NYFirefighter who performed the heimlich and he was fine Its very important to have this info

  • Kathy Winiker 5 years ago

    Excellently written article, quite informative. Those warning signs of stroke are helpfully listed - and of course we must pay attention to them as they are occurring. Most of us know people who have suffered these strokes and in many cases they are devastating and life-altering. Thanks for clearing explaining very important information, relevant to all of us!

  • Gail Many 5 years ago

    Thank you for the informative article. It is so important for everyone to know the warning signs of a stroke. Well written and very pertinent.

  • Kathy Ferran 5 years ago

    As Karen's article states there is a 3 hour window of time to stop the devastation of a stroke, so an easy way to remember the signs is S.T.A.R (ask the person to Smile, stick out their Tongue, Answer a simple question and Raise both arms). If their smile is crooked, if their tongue is to one side, if they can't answer a simple question or if they can't raise both arms get them to an ER ASAP.

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