How to Recognize Stroke Symptoms

You are encouraged and urged to learn the warning signs of stroke and to teach them to others. Knowing the warning signs and risk factors for stroke, you will be able to help yourself or a loved one reduce the risk of having a stroke and suffering disability or death.

The Most Common Stroke Symptoms—all are sudden onset conditions

Numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body

Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

Trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination

Severe headache with no known cause

Less Common Symptoms

Sudden nausea, fever, and vomiting (distinguished from a viral illness by the speed of onset)

Brief loss of consciousness or period of decreased consciousness (fainting, confusion, convulsions, or coma)

Stroke is an Emergency!

Call 911 if you have any of these symptoms—or see someone around you experiencing them. By being able to recognize symptoms and to understand that they signal an emergency, you are able to seek medical attention quickly. Treatment exists to minimize the effects of stroke; however it must be given within three hours of the first symptom. It is easy for people to recognize stroke symptoms by learning F-A-S-T and then calling 911.

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 sentence. Are the words slurred?

T = Time      If you observe any of these signs, then it’s time to call 911.

Special note: If symptoms appear for only a very short period of time and then disappear, it could mean a Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA. It is important to call 911 whenever you, or someone around you, experience any stroke symptom. While TIA’s are not strokes, they indicate serious underlying stroke risks and are a powerful warning that a full stroke may soon follow.