Three warning signs of a stroke are facial drooping or numbness, arm weakness, and sudden speech difficulties, according to the American Stroke Association. Other warning signs include confusion, vision problems in one or both eyes, balance problems and a sudden, severe headache, notes WebMD.
Stroke symptoms can develop suddenly or gradually over time, and symptoms vary depending on where the stroke occurs in the body, states WebMD. There are three different types of stroke: hemorrhagic, ischemic and transient ischemic attack. An ischemic stroke is often caused by blood clots due to atherosclerosis or atrial fibrillation. Hemorrhagic strokes occur when an aneurysm ruptures, causing bleeding in the brain. Transient ischemic attacks, also known as mini strokes, are caused by small obstructions in the blood vessels. They generally don't cause permanent damage, but they are a warning sign of a potentially larger stroke, and medical attention is warranted.
Treatment within three to four hours of the onset of a stroke greatly reduces the likelihood of complications, especially if the stroke is due to a blood clot, states Mayo Clinic. The use of medication to dissolve the blood clot vastly improves survival rates. A stroke caused by bleeding blood vessels may require surgery to stop the bleeding.
To reduce the risk of stroke, individuals should get plenty of exercise, reduce alcohol, quit smoking, eat a healthy diet and maintain a healthy body weight, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.