Typical symptoms with a stroke


If the blood supply to any part of the brain is interrupted, a stroke occurs – an emergency that can be fatal and in which every second counts. It’s therefore important to recognise the symptoms and act immediately.

A stroke and its consequences

A stroke – also called cerebral apoplexy or cerebral infarction – can change a person's life forever within seconds. According to the Swiss Heart Foundation, 16,000 people in Switzerland suffer from strokes every year. The most common cause of a stroke is a short-term disturbance to the blood’s circulation caused by a clot blocking a vessel in the brain. Because the brain tissue is no longer supplied with oxygen and nutrients, it quickly begins to die.

Recognise stroke symptoms with the FAST test

The FAST test helps you recognise the key signs of a stroke. (in german)

Signs of a stroke

The symptoms of a stroke vary greatly. With any of the following signs, don’t waste any time and call the emergency number 144 immediately:

Common symptoms

  • Sudden visual impairments, such as double vision or even temporary blindness (often only in one eye).
  • Speech difficulties such as unclear pronunciation or even loss of speech. Repeating words and syllables (articulation difficulties), long pauses, and word sequences that make no sense are also typical.
  • Comprehension difficulties: instructions aren't carried out or are carried out incorrectly.
  • One-sided numbness (tingling) or even paralysis, mostly affecting arms and/or legs as well as the face (one-sided drooping of the mouth).
  • Sudden onset of severe dizziness, often associated with unsteadiness or inability to walk.
  • A sudden and extremely severe headache, with an intensity that becomes almost unbearable. This pain is typical of a brain haemorrhage, the second most common cause of a stroke.

Take the early warning signs of a stroke seriously

The symptoms can occur individually or in combination and depend on the region of the brain in which the circulatory disturbance is located and how severe it is. Even if the symptoms mentioned above only last for a short time, it’s essential to take them seriously as they could be the early warning signs of a later stroke.

Recognise a stroke in women

Studies show that in addition to the symptoms described above, women may have other signs of a stroke that aren't necessarily associated with a stroke. These include chest or limb pain, nausea, shortness of breath, urinary incontinence, confusion, difficulty swallowing, or even hiccuping. These rather atypical symp­toms may delay the recognition of a stroke and the required treatment. They should therefore be given special attention.

Symptoms in women

  • chest or limb pain
  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • urinary incontinence
  • confusion
  • swallowing difficulties
  • hiccups

What to do until the ambulance arrives?

  1. Lay the person down, with the upper body slightly elevated, and make sure they don’t get cold.
  2. Give the person space to breathe and open any tight-fitting clothes.
  3. Stay calm and provide reassurance.

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