In the Spotlight

Stroke: The Importance of Getting Help Right Away

Contributed by the RESCUE Project Team

brain x-ray

About Stroke

Stroke, or "brain attack," is among the leading causes of death and disability in the United States. According to the American Heart Association, about 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke each year. This means that every 40 seconds somebody in the United States has a stroke.

Stroke affects people of all ages, race, gender and socio-economic status. Stroke happens very fast with little to no warning. Seeking medical attention immediately can make the difference between life and death. Every minute counts! Remember: 'Time lost is brain lost.'

The Warning Signs of a Stroke


If someone experiences one or more of the stroke warning signs listed below, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY! These changes may last or may start, briefly subside, and then return.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg (mainly on one side)
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance
  • Sudden confusion or trouble talking or understanding speech
  • Sudden bad headache with no known cause

Teaching someone how to recognize a stroke can be as easy as S-T-R.

  1. S - Ask the person to smile.
  2. T - Ask the person to talk or speak a simple sentence(coherently). Example: "It is sunny out today."
  3. R - Ask the person to raise both arms together.

Take the Warning: Stroke Ahead quiz to see if you can recognize the warning signs of stroke.

Learn More

The VA website called Resources and Education for Stroke Caregivers' Understanding and Empowerment, or RESCUE for short, has a fact sheet called About Stroke, which gives general stroke information in easy-to-understand language. The fact sheet talks about:

  • The risk factors for stroke
  • Ways to lower stroke risk
  • The importance of seeking immediate medical attention immediately

My HealtheVet Caregiver Center offers valuable information on VA and community resources to help you take better care of yourself as a caregiver and our Veteran.

My HealtheVet Stroke Center provides an overview of the condition, including symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment and medications.


Prevention Is The Best Way To A Stroke-Free Life. To help you better know what your risk is, make use of the checklist: What is Your Risk for Stroke? Keep this checklist handy. Use it to see if you or a loved one is at risk for stroke. If you answer "YES" to any of the risk factors, share this information with your health care team. They will discuss your risk and develop a prevention plan.


Updated/Reviewed: May 1, 2011