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Spot a stroke, save a life.

A stroke is a serious medical condition that requires emergency care.


What is a stroke?

The most common kinds of stroke are ischemic stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, and transient ischemic attack. An ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen to the brain is blocked or reduced, causing brain cells to die. A hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures. The blood accumulates and puts pressure on surrounding brain tissue. A transient ischemic attack is like an ischemic stroke, but the blood flow to the brain is blocked only for a short time. 

When brain cells are injured or die, the bodily functions they control such as speech or use of limbs can be impaired or lost. Stroke can also affect your memory or ability to understand. A stroke can change the way you think or feel.

A stroke is a serious medical condition that requires emergency care. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone you are with shows signs of a stroke.

BE-FAST to spot the signs of a stroke

Balance: Loss of balance or coordination, dizziness.

Eyes: Vision changes in one eye or both.

Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?

Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. 

Other stroke symptoms

Watch for sudden:

  • NUMBNESS or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • CONFUSION, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • TROUBLE SEEING in one or both eyes
  • TROUBLE WALKING, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • SEVERE HEADACHE with no known cause

Manage your risk for stroke

Many risk factors can be controlled or treated to reduce your chance of having a stroke:

  • High blood pressure – limit salt intake, exercise regularly, and take medications as prescribed 
  • Tobacco use and smoking – your doctor can offer programs to help you quit
  • Alcohol use – do not have more than one drink per day for women and no more than two drinks per day for men
  • Diabetes – control your blood sugar through proper diet, exercise, and medication
  • High cholesterol – eat plenty of fruits and vegetables; reduce intake of red meat, dairy products and eggs; exercise; and take medications as prescribed
  • Excessive weight and physical inactivity – try to get 30 minutes of physical activity each day

Talk to your doctor about your stroke risk and the steps you can take to reduce that risk.

Stroke care close to home

Arroyo Grande Community Hospital, French Hospital Medical Center, and Marian Regional Medical Center are Primary Stroke Centers. The Joint Commision awards this certification to facilities that follow a set of best practices and deliver care that meets the unique and specialized needs of stroke patients.

Need a doctor?

Find a Dignity Health Central Coast doctor to help you understand and manage your risk for stroke.