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Stroke Signs and Symptoms

Woman holding her head.

Sudden severe headache with no known cause is a stroke sign in men and women.

During a stroke, every minute counts! Fast treatment can reduce the brain damage that stroke can cause.

By knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, you can be prepared to take quick action and perhaps save a life—maybe even your own. Watch a video about stroke signs and symptoms from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.

Signs of Stroke in Men and Women

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Call 9-1-1 immediately if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke

Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for the most effective treatments if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T.1 and do the following simple test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
A—Arms:
Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S—Speech:
Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
T—Time:
If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Note the time when any symptoms first appear. Some treatments for stroke only work if given in the first 3 hours after symptoms appear. Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

Treating a Transient Ischemic Attack

If your symptoms go away after a few minutes, you may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA). Although brief, a TIA is a sign of a serious condition that will not go away without medical help. Tell your health care team about your symptoms right away.

Unfortunately, because TIAs clear up, many people ignore them. Don’t be one of those people. Paying attention to a TIA can save your life.

References

  1. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Brain Basics: Preventing Stroke Accessed December 4, 2013.

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