Learning the warning signs is vitally important—because every fifth stroke patient shows warning signs 24 hours before the episode actually occurs. Here are the symptoms to look out for:

1. High blood pressure - Many people with high blood pressure do not feel anything at all—but high blood pressure is the single biggest risk factor for both cerebral infarction and cerebral hemorrhage.

2. A stiff neck- Bleeding in a blood vessel in the brain can cause a stiff neck. If you are not able to touch your chin to your chest and also have a violent headache, go to the doctor immediately.

3. Foot drop - Foot drop, or weakness or paralysis that limits the ability to raise the front part of your foot, may be the result of a stroke or damage to a nerve that runs from the knee down to the foot.

4. A splitting headache - Splitting headaches without cause may be a precursor to stroke. A sudden severe headache without a clear cause warrants a trip to the hospital.

5. Paralysis hypoglycemia - Difficult to diagnose, but slight paralysis of one side, causing numbness in the feet and legs or slurred speech, is a warning sign not to be ignored.

6. Visual disturbances - Sudden visual defects in one or both eyes can be a sign that you are about to have a stroke.

7. Shoulder pain - Only a number of stroke victims reported feeling severe shoulder pain before a stroke.

8. Premature fatigue - One symptom that may come hours before a stroke is extreme fatigue. Affected people sleep all the time, and in certain cases, the victim might be completely unconscious.

If in doubt, remember these F.A.S.T test checklist:

F = Face: Is one side of the face drooping down?
A = Arm: Can the person raise both arms, or is one arm weak?
S = Speech: Is speech slurred or confusing?
T = Time: Time is critical!! Call an ambulance immediately!

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