33. Recognizing Stroke & TIA Symptoms

Diabetes Planned Visit Notebook

This fact sheet helps patients with diabetes identify symptoms of stroke and transient ischemic attacks. Care providers give it to patients during diabetes planned visits, and it is part of the Diabetes Planned Visit Notebook.

Recognizing Stroke and TIA Symptoms

  • People who have high blood pressure, diabetes, or heart disease are more likely to suffer from strokes or TIAs (transient ischemic attacks).
  • A stroke or a TIA are Brain Attacks, but most people don't know the symptoms.
  • If you experience any of the symptoms below, immediate medical treatment can save your life.
  • Even if these symptoms don't cause pain or they go away quickly, call 911 immediately!!

The Five Most Common Stroke Symptoms Include:

Picture of a man's face divided into two sides; one side is numb. Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
 Picture of a woman looking confused and a large question mark. Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
 Picture of a man's face in profile; he is having trouble seeing. Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
Picture of a body lying unconscious.  Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
Picture of a face with a painful headache; a hand is touching the side of the head.  Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
 Picture of an ambulance, the word 'Stroke!', and 911.

Call 911

Call 911 if you see or have any of these symptoms. Treatment can be more effective if given quickly. Every minute counts!

Other Important but less Common Stroke Symptoms Include:

Picture of a man holding his stomach in pain.  Sudden nausea, fever and vomiting distinguished from a viral illness by the speed of onset (minutes or hours vs. several days)
 Picture of a body lying unconscious. Brief loss of consciousness or period of decreased consciousness (fainting, confusion, convulsions or coma)

How to Prevent Stroke

  • Know your blood pressure. Have it checked at least annually. If it is elevated, work with your doctor to keep it under control.
  • Find out if you have atrial fibrillation.
  • If you smoke, stop.
  • If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation. Two drinks or less per day.
  • Find out if you have high cholesterol.
  • If you are diabetic, follow your doctor's recommendations carefully to control your diabetes.
  • Include exercise in the activities you enjoy in your daily routine.
  • Enjoy a lower sodium (salt), lower fat diet.
Page last reviewed January 2008
Internet Citation: 33. Recognizing Stroke & TIA Symptoms: Diabetes Planned Visit Notebook. January 2008. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/education/curriculum-tools/diabnotebk/diabnotebk33.html