Stroke – Signs

What are the most common signs of stroke?

Not everyone gets all of the following warning signs of stroke and sometimes these signs can go away but then return. The best stroke treatment is only effective if given within 3 hours of when the attack begins. If you have any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

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

What other symptoms might occur?

A study of 1124 stroke survivors found that some people have non-traditional stroke symptoms. Women were more likely to report these unusual symptoms than men (28% vs. 19% of men). Non-traditional signs that may indicate a stroke include sudden face, arm, or leg pain, nausea, tiredness, chest pain, shortness of breath, or a pounding or racing heartbeat.

How do I recognize a stroke in someone else?

If you are with someone who is having a stroke, they may just appear dazed and confused.

The National Stroke Association coined “FAST” to help identify stroke:

Face: Ask them to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

Arms: Ask them to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downwards?

Speech: Ask them to repeat a simple sentence (for example, “The sky is blue”). Are the words slurred? Can they say the sentence correctly?

Time: Stroke is an emergency: call 9-1-1 if the person experiences any of the above symptoms.

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