Health A-Z

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Different areas of the brain are responsible for different functions. These include sensation, movement, sight, speech, balance, and coordination.

The symptoms of stroke vary depending on which area of the brain is damaged. Symptoms can include:

  • Headache, with or without vomiting

  • Dizziness or confusion

  • Weakness or paralysis on one side of the body

  • Sudden, severe numbness in any part of the body

  • Visual disturbance, including sudden loss of vision

  • Difficulty walking, including staggering or veering

  • Coordination problems in the arms and hands

  • Slurred speech or inability to speak

  • Sudden deviation of the eyes toward one direction

  • Seizures

  • Irregular breathing

  • Stupor

  • Coma

The sudden appearance of one or more of these symptoms is a warning sign that a stroke may be in progress.

In some cases, strokes are preceded by one or more transient ischemic attacks (TIAs). TIAs are brief episodes of stroke-like symptoms. They last less than 24 hours, most commonly for only 5 to 20 minutes.

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From Health A-Z, Harvard Health Publications. Copyright 2007 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved. Written permission is required to reproduce, in any manner, in whole or in part, the material contained herein. To make a reprint request, contact Harvard Health Publications. Used with permission of StayWell.

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