Recognizing the Red Flags | Uncommon Stroke Symptoms Leading to Misdiagnosis


A stroke, sometimes called a brain attack, happens when there is either not enough blood (ischemic) or too much blood (hemorrhagic) in your brain. In ischemic Stroke Symptoms, the blood supply to your brain is interrupted or reduced. When this happens, brain tissue cannot get the necessary oxygen and nutrients. In hemorrhagic strokes, a vessel is ruptured or bursts, and blood pools in the brain area, compressing brain tissue. Because of these two examples of brain trauma, strokes can lead to brain damage, disability, and even death. 

The difference between recovery from stroke and debilitation or death from stroke often lies in a healthcare provider’s ability to correctly and swiftly identify the signs of stroke. The following are signs of stroke that doctors and other emergency room personnel should be able to identify.

  • Facial drooping: One side of the face may droop or feel numb. If you ask the person to smile, one side of the face might not move as well as the other.
  • Extremity weakness: One arm or leg may feel weaker than the other. If the person cannot raise both arms to the same height or cannot lift each leg to equal heights, they may be suffering a stroke. Tingling and numbness in one extremity is also a sign.
  • Speech difficulty: Speech may become slurred or difficult to understand; the person may appear to struggle to get even the simplest of words out.
  • Vision issues: Vision may become dark, blurry, or doubled.
  • Headache: Stroke-related headaches are often described as sudden onset of severe pain (like a “thunderclap headache”).


Unfortunately, women who suffer from strokes tend to be dismissed by healthcare professionals. This is because healthcare professionals tend to know only the more classic male-presenting symptoms of stroke and are not properly educated on the signs of strokes in women. Some of the signs of strokes in women include:

  • Confusion, disorientation, memory problems, or a sudden change in behavior
  • Headache (not necessarily as severe as men complain of)
  • Nausea, vomiting, or lightheadedness
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Persistent hiccups
  • Fainting
  • Neck pain (usually on one side)
  • Loss of balance, difficulty walking

Often doctors miss the above stroke signs and misdiagnose women as experiencing menopause or menstrual symptoms.

Time is of the essence in stroke cases. It’s imperative for the healthcare provider to correctly and swiftly identify stroke symptoms so treatment can start immediately. If treatment is delayed, the brain and body damage from the stroke could be permanent or fatal. 

If you or a loved one suffered a stroke and you believe your healthcare providers did not act swiftly in identifying and treating the stroke, contact hospital malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia. Medical malpractice lawyers like the experienced team at VSCP Law can help.


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