WILMIGNTON, NC - Strokes are the nation's third largest cause of death and effects 700,000 Americans each year.
Betty Modaressi is recovering from an unexpected stroke. Now, she is realizing there may have been warning signs.
"I had several little what my mother calls 'spells' where I would try to say something and something else would come out," said Modaressi.
Across the country, someone has a stroke every 40 seconds.
Cardiologist Cameron Haery says people often don't know the signs of a stroke, or simply ignore them.
"Sudden and severe unexpected headache, dizziness or loss of your balance, or your gait, unable to walk in a straight line," said Dr. Haery.
Stroke patients may also have slurred speech or numbness in an arm or leg. While almost everyone gets a headache once in a while, it's a combination of symptoms that points to trouble.
"For example if you have a sudden or severe headache that is new and it is associated with weakness or numbness in an arm or a leg," said Dr. Haery.
If the symptoms do result in a stroke, time is critical.
Clot busting medication works best when patients get it within three hours of the warning signs. That is why experts say if you get the symptoms to not delay going to the hospital.