Widely circulating email health alerts—especially when they come from unverified sources—are notoriously unreliable. So it's not surprising that we’ve gotten questions about an email alert that tells how to recognize a stroke.
It points out, correctly, that stroke symptoms can be hard to identify, but that you can tell if someone is having a stroke by doing three simple tests: Ask the person to Smile, Talk (speak a sentence) and Raise both arms. You’re supposed to remember the acronym STR (as in stroke). If the person has trouble with any of these, call for help.
Actually this isn’t bad advice. It helps identify facial and arm weakness and speech problems, which often occur with strokes. Still, many people having a stroke may pass this test, so it might prevent you from getting the person to the emergency room.
Here’s a fuller list of signs of a stroke, all sudden:
- confusion or trouble speaking or understanding speech
- numbness or weakness of the face, one arm, or one leg
- trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- trouble walking, leg weakness or numbness, dizziness, or loss of coordination
- severe headache with no known cause. When in doubt, call 911 immediately.