A stroke is defined as a sudden onset of neurological deficits. If symptoms last at least 24 hours, it is called a stroke; if they fade within 24 hours, it is referred to as a mini stroke. In both cases, the symptoms are the same and an immediate examination should be carried out in a specialist stroke unit.


Symptoms of a stroke or mini stroke


  • Impaired vision: one-sided blindness, visual field defect, double vision
  • Language disorder: trouble with finding words, writing, comprehension or impaired ability to read
  • Speech disorder: indistinct or slurred speech
  • Dizziness, impaired balance
  • Paralysis and/or sensory loss of one half of the body

A simple test will help family and friends assess these symptoms correctly: the Swiss Heart Foundation’s symptom check.


Time is brain – act immediately!


If symptoms indicate a stroke or a mini stroke, go to the nearest stroke centre immediately or alert the emergency services (144) and monitor vital functions until they arrive (ABC: Airway, Breathing/respiration, Circulation/pulse) and if necessary perform lifesaving measures. Since the person affected often has difficulty swallowing, no drink or food should be administered. Moreover, no blood-thinning medication such as aspirin should be taken.

The sooner the patient receives expert treatment, the less brain tissue will be destroyed and neurological deficits, such as speech disturbance or paralysis, may improve or even be completely reversible.