Stroke Signs Mistaken for Other Health Problems [Video]

  • Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. 
  • Signs of a stroke are often mistaken for other less severe health conditions.
  • Knowing the signs of stroke and treating it early can help increase the chances of full recovery.

When you experience a stroke, your brain loses millions of neurons and ages. The longer a stroke lasts or left untreated, the greater the likelihood of speech difficulties, memory loss, or behavioral changes. Treating a stroke early can minimize damage and increase the probability of a fuller recovery.

There are two kinds of stroke: ischemic stroke and hemorrhagic stroke. Ischemic stroke occurs when blocked blood vessels reduce blood flow in the brain, while hemorrhagic stroke happens when a ruptured blood vessel leaks blood in the brain. Both kinds can have the same symptoms. Call 911 immediately when you notice any of the following signs of a stroke:

Vision problems

Seeing double, blurriness, or loss of sight in one eye can signify a stroke. However, many people mistake these vision problems as signs of old age or tiredness. According to Carolyn Brockington, MD, a neurologist at Mount Sinai Stroke Center in New York City and assistant professor of neurology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, tiredness, or reading too much, is unlikely to cause double vision. However, a blocked blood vessel can reduce the amount of oxygen that reaches the eye, causing vision issues. 

Numb arms

Reduced blood flow to your head’s back can cause numbness or weakness on one side of your body. Ralph Sacco, MD, professor of neurology at the University of Miami North School of Medicine, says if your arm or leg feels numb after a nap and it doesn’t go away in a few minutes, you should call 911.  

Slurred speech

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Dr. Sacco says some medicines can cause slurred speech. However, if you don’t usually experience this side effect, you might be experiencing a stroke and should seek immediate help.  


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While drinking alcohol can cause wobbliness, delayed balance problems could result from reduced blood flow to the brain. Call 911 right away if you suddenly start to stumble, can’t walk straight, or experience sudden dizziness. 

Cognitive deficits

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Sudden cognitive deficits that last long, including having trouble thinking of the right words or losing their train of thought, are common signs of a stroke. According to Dr. Sacco, the part of the brain that isn’t working well impairs perception and thinking. Sometimes, the patient cannot determine that something is wrong, so it’s up to the people around the patient to sound the alarm. 

Blinding headache

If you don’t usually get migraines and experience a blinding headache, it could be a stroke. Dr. Sacco says migraine headaches can be mistaken as a stroke because they have the same neurological symptoms, so he suggests treating migraines like a stroke and calling for help. 

According to a Nature Reviews Neurology study, having regular migraines with auras increases your chance of stroke.  

Source: The Healthy

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