Know These Warning Signs of Stroke


Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. Every 3.5 minutes, someone dies of a stroke (according to the CDC). Getting care quickly is critical to stroke recovery because some treatments must be given within a few hours after a stroke to be effective.

Most often, people do not realize they are having a stroke. Stroke patients may feel like they are having a migraine, or suffering generalized weakness or other common health concerns — so they do not seek help right away. Getting medical help fast is the most important thing anyone experiencing stroke symptoms should do. The sooner a patient receives medical care, the better their chances are for recovery.

Young Patients Share Their Wisdom

Stroke happens to people at all ages, not just seniors. Learn from these young patients who received care at Emerson:

“A lot of people do not know the signs of stroke or do not recognize the signs. Act fast! It can save your life,” says Leeann, who had a stroke in March 2020, when she was 48. After nearly two months of hospitalized rehabilitation, and more than two years after her stroke, she lives with the challenges of aphasia that contribute to a slower speaking rate and extended time to think about what she wants to say and how to say it. Leeann receives intensive speech therapy at Emerson to improve her aphasia and ability to live a regular life.

“If you feel different, get checked out right away. When it comes to your life, never regret getting help,” explains Sue, who had a stroke in January 2021 at age 48. Sue has a history of migraines with visual aura. When her vision changed, she thought it was a migraine and put off going to Emerson’s emergency department. When her symptoms worsened, she went to the ED, where doctors confirmed she suffered a stroke. She experienced brain fog and fatigue long after her stroke. To help regain skills lost, Sue attended speech and occupational therapy at Emerson. Today, she is nearly back to her regular life.

Here are the most common signs of stroke:

  • B – Balance: Is the person experiencing a sudden loss of balance or coordination?
  • E – Eyes: Is the person having a sudden change in vision or trouble seeing?
  • F – Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A – Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S – Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • T – Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

If you believe you are suffering from a stroke, call 911 or have someone call an ambulance for you immediately, even if your symptoms disappear. Also, be aware that women are more likely than men to report unusual stroke symptoms, such as sudden nausea, shortness of breath, or pain. Learn more about stroke prevention and recovering from stroke at



Emerson has a partnership with Mass General Hospital (MGH) to assess patients in Emerson’s emergency department and in the hospital for stroke 24/7/365. By using videoconferencing and image-sharing technology, stroke specialists from Emerson Hospital and MGH can quickly and thoroughly examine patients to diagnose the patient’s condition and establish a plan of care. In addition, Emerson staff can reach the MGH acute stroke service as needed, giving you access to leading-edge stroke care close to home.

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