Stroke Signs and Symptoms
During a stroke, every minute counts! Fast treatment can lessen the brain damage that stroke can cause.
By knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, you can take quick action and perhaps save a life—maybe even your own.
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 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.
Acting F.A.S.T. Is Key for Stroke
Published October 26, 2015
When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts. Just as putting out a fire quickly can stop it from spreading, treating a stroke quickly can reduce damage to the brain. If you learn how to recognize the telltale signs of a stroke, you can act quickly and save a life—maybe even your own.
Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. 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 the speech slurred or strange?
T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.
Note the time when any symptoms first appear. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person. 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.
Unfortunately, because TIAs clear up, many people ignore them. But paying attention to a TIA can save your life. Tell your health care team about your symptoms right away.
From other organizations:
- Stroke signs and symptoms videoexternal icon—National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
- What You Need to Know About Strokeexternal icon—NINDS
- Know Stroke: Know the Signs. Act in Time.external icon—National Institutes of Health
- Strokeexternal icon–Medline Plus
- Brain Health Resource Pageexternal icon–American Heart Association/American Stroke Association
- Internet Stroke Centerexternal icon
- Stroke Symptomsexternal icon–American Heart Association/American Stroke Association