Migraine Stroke Symptoms: What to Watch For

Migraine stroke symptoms can be quite different for men and women. Read the top 6 most common symptoms below and find out what differences to watch for now.

First up, I must tell you that it is hard to differentiate typical stroke symptoms from just plain migraine symptoms.

They are frighteningly similar, so you must be aware of your own common patterns and body signals for your migraines.

For example, mine start mostly in my eyes. It is not sudden, it is slow and painful!

“A stroke is a sudden disruption in blood flow to the brain caused by a blockage or bleeding of a blood vessel. Areas of the brain that are affected by the blockage or bleeding can become damaged within minutes."¹

"The effects of a stroke may be mild or severe and temporary or permanent, depending on which brain cells are damaged, how much of the brain is involved, and how quickly the blood supply is restored to the area.”¹

Symptoms of a stroke usually happen quickly, but they may also occur over a few hours. It depends on where and how bad the haemorrhage is. Sometimes you might experience just a mild weakness or tingling, a mild dizziness at first. You may even have more gradual declines in walking and balance.

If this is happening, please see your physician immediately. These small differences may be attributed to the aging process, or yet another migraine.

6 Most Common Stroke Symptoms

Here are the 6 most common stroke symptoms to watch our for:

Migraine Stroke Symptoms

•  Sudden numbness, weakness, or tingling on only one side of your body. It could also present as a loss of movement in your face, arm, or leg, on one side of your body.

•  Sudden changes in your vision.

•  Sudden difficulty speaking and forming words.

•  Sudden unexpected confusion or trouble understanding simple statements.

•  Sudden dizziness or problems walking.

•  A sudden, severe headache that is different from any of your past headaches or migraines.

It all sounds like migraine to me! Many of my migraines are different each time. Although I have to say for the past 5 years or so, I feel them starting in my eyes or the back of my neck. So there is some regular pattern I can be aware of. 

Ways to Prevent Strokes

For some tips to help prevent strokes, the article on reducing migraine stroke risks has more details.

Making healthy lifestyle choices is important.

Migraine Stroke Symptoms in Women Differ to Those in Men

Migraine stroke symptoms can vary, especially between women and men. Women are more likely to have atypical stroke symptoms like the ones listed below.

According to Crystal Phend, the Staff writer for MedPage today, stroke symptoms in women are often atypical and this causes problems in diagnosing stroke in the emergency department. Now this article is from 2007, so I hope they (emergency departments and doctors) have sorted it out by now.

The Five Top Stroke Symptoms in Women are:

•    “Loss of consciousness or fainting (88 patients, 60% women),

•    Respiratory complaints (65 patients, 58% women),

•    Falls or accidents (32 patients, 63% women),

•    Pain (30 patients, 70% women), and

•    Seizure (12 patients, 58% women). “

The typical warning signs of: sudden severe headache, with no obvious cause; sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg; and sudden confusion or having trouble speaking was reported to be equal between men and women. But having vision changes, dizziness or trouble walking was occurring significantly less in women.

Now this may all sound a little confusing, but I feel it is really important to know that migraine stroke symptoms look different in women than in men, as a higher number of women suffer from migraines.

The National Stroke Association Warning Signs of Stroke

The National Stroke Association helps us to identify the warning signs of stroke in this short video. Here is their FAST acronym to help us remember them:

F - FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of their face droop down?

A - ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms above their head. Does one of their arms drift downward?

S - SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Does their speech sound slurred or strange?

T - TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call your local emergency number immediately. In the USA it's 911, in Australia 000, in Europe 112, but it varies. Try this website: emergency phone numbers.

You Might Like to Read

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

You might also enjoy reading My Stroke of Insight by the Harvard trained brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor, PhD., who at the age of 37 suffered a massive stroke. She recounts her debilitating journey to full recovery.

As a Neuroanatomist by profession, she observed her own mind diminish to the point that she could not walk, talk, read, write, or recall any of her life, all within the space of four brief hours.

If it were not for a call from a fellow colleague, who recognized the signs of stroke, she may have died.

It took eight long years for Ms. Taylor to heal completely and return to a more 'normal' life.

Shared Experiences Helps Others

Come on over to migraine stories and share your experience and any information I may have missed here. 

We cannot know enough about migraine stroke symptoms in women.


1.  WebMD, (2011) Stroke Symptoms. Available [on-line] at: http://www.webmd.com/stroke/tc/stroke-symptoms.
2.  Phend, C. staff writer for MedPage Today (2007) Atypical Stroke Symptoms in Women.  Available [on-line] at: http://www.medpagetoday.com/MeetingCoverage/ISC/5022
3.  National Stroke Association Warning Signs of Stroke

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