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Stroke signs

Stroke is a medical emergency. Recognizing and responding immediately to the signs of stroke by calling 9-1-1 or your local emergency number can significantly improve survival and recovery.

What are the five signs of stroke?

Stroke can be treated. That's why it is so important to recognize and respond to the warning signs.

If you experience any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number immediately. The paramedics may take you to a hospital that provides specialized stroke care, even if this means bypassing a closer hospital. They can also call the hospital and let them know you are on your way. This saves valuable time so tPA (a clot-busting drug) can be given as soon as possible if appropriate.

Once at the hospital, if you are diagnosed with a stroke caused by a blood clot, doctors may administer tPA. This drug can reduce the severity of a stroke and reverse some of the effects, but only if it is administered within a few crucial hours after symptoms begin.* That is why it is very important to recognize the signs of stroke and immediately call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number.

* In 1999, Health Canada approved the clot-busting drug called tPA to be used within 3 hours from the time stroke symptoms begin. Since that time, considerable evidence shows that tPA could be effective up to 4½ hours from the time symptoms begin. As a result, the Heart and Stroke Foundation has issued updated Canadian Stroke Best Practices Recommendations to include this longer possible treatment time. It will be up to the attending doctors to determine when tPA may be administered and if it is appropriate.

Last reviewed: August 2013.
Last modified: June 2014.