What are the symptoms of a stroke?

Symptoms of a stroke include weakness or numbness on one side of the body, difficulty with vision on one side of the body, balance issues or changes in language. An easy reminder of stroke symptoms is to use F - A - S - T. This stands for the following:

  • F: facial asymmetry or drooping of the face
  • A: arm weakness
  • S: speech abnormalities, such as slurring of speech or difficulty recalling words
  • T: timing . . . time to call 911
Dr. Reza Jahan, MD

The symptoms of a stroke include:

  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on just one side of the body (it's rare to have a stroke that affects both sides of the body at the same time)
  • sudden confusion
  • trouble speaking or understanding
  • trouble seeing or a loss of part of your vision in one or both eyes
  • sudden trouble walking
  • dizziness or loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden headache with no known cause

If you are with someone who may be having a stroke, keep FAST in mind:

  • F is for face. Ask the person to smile. You should see symmetry in his smile. If half of his face does not match the other side, that is a problem sign.
  • A is for arm. Ask the person to raise both arms. If one arm is weak, there is a problem.
  • S is for speech. Ask the person to speak a simple sentence. If he cannot, he may be having a stroke.
  • T is for time. If you observe any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately because time is of the essence.
Recognizing stroke symptoms is important. Symptoms commonly seen in both men and women are:
  • sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • sudden trouble seeing
  • sudden trouble walking, with dizziness and loss of balance or coordination
  • sudden severe headache with no known cause
In addition, women may experience these stroke symptoms:
  • sudden face and limb pain
  • sudden hiccups
  • sudden nausea
  • sudden weakness
  • sudden chest pain
  • sudden shortness of breath or palpitations
The best way to identify a stroke is with the FAST (face, arms, speech and time) method. If one side of the face droops when a person smiles, if one arm drifts downward when they're both raised and if speech is slurred or sounds strange, call 911 immediately. Time is crucial when treating a stroke; the most effective treatments must be given within the first three hours of the first symptoms. Don't delay calling for emergency help.

Everyone should learn the following warning signs of stroke. If you experience any of these symptoms, immediately dial 911 or go to an emergency room:

  • Weakness in an arm, hand or leg
  • Numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, particularly in one eye
  • Sudden difficulty speaking
  • Inability to understand what someone is saying
  • Dizziness or loss of balance
  • Sudden, lasting, excruciating headache.

It is difficult to overemphasize the importance of identifying and treating a stroke as soon as possible. Warning signs can begin anywhere from a few minutes to days before a stroke. In a Gallup survey, 97 percent of people over age 50 did not recognize the warning signs of a stroke. Everyone, especially those who are at increased risk for strokes, should learn these warning signs and know what to do if they occur.

Most strokes start suddenly with either paralysis or numbness on one side of the body, slurred or difficult to understand speech and/or loss of vision in one eye. Any one of these symptoms can mean that you are having a stroke. The symptoms may clear in minutes or hours (a transient ischemic attack, or TIA) but reversible symptoms represent as big a risk as a stroke that does not improve. Some strokes are due to bleeding in the brain and, in addition to the symptoms noted above, there is usually severe headache and there may be vomiting and loss of consciousness. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical help immediately.

Symptoms of stroke include new onset of difficulty walking or falling to one side due to paralysis or numbness, slurring of speech, drooping of one side of the face, trouble understanding speech, headache and/or difficulty seeing through one or both eyes. If you have signs or symptoms of stroke, you should seek immediate medical attention.
Dr. Kelly Traver

When a stroke is in progress, the individual often experiences sudden motor loss on one side of the body or numbness. He or she may have trouble speaking, become confused or clumsy and sometimes get a headache. In severe cases, the person can lose consciousness. A stroke is essentially a "heart attack" of the brain. Usually, it occurs because a blood vessel within the brain becomes narrowed by plaque and then a clot forms and completely blocks the blood supply. Sometimes, it's because a piece of plaque from a bigger artery flicks off and lodges within a smaller brain artery downstream.

If you go in time to the doctor, medication can be given to successfully break up the clot and restore blood flow. Antiplatelet medications, such as aspirin, are often given to prevent future strokes or heart attacks, because activated platelets promote clotting.

Common symptoms of stroke include:

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

Stroke is an emergency. Always call 911 right away if you notice the symptoms above.

Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine Specialist

The following are the signs and symptoms of a stroke:

  • Sudden unexplained dizziness/trouble walking
  • Sudden intense headache, 'worst headache ever'
  • Sudden dimness or loss of vision, usually in one eye
  • Sudden inability to speak, slurred or incoherent speech
  • Sudden loss of sensation and/or function on one side of the face, arms or legs
  • Sudden confusion, unconsciousness
Doc's First Aid Guide: Read It Before You Need It

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Doc's First Aid Guide: Read It Before You Need It

In a medical emergency, time is of the essence. "Doc's First Aid Guide" is an illustrated, first-aid pocket handbook designed to be used as a quick reference and includes the latest CPR guidelines....

Learn about the signs and symptoms associated with a stroke in this video.

Most strokes typically involve inability to move one side of the body or the other.

All strokes have similar symptoms, such as inability to move the face or arm, trouble talking and walking, numbness, tingling, and severe headache.

The most common stroke symptoms include sudden trouble moving an arm or leg, droop on one side of the face, trouble speaking or understanding speech or numbness on one side of the body. If you or someone else is experiencing stroke-like symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Symptoms of stroke are very sudden and include weakness on one side of the body, drooping of the face, garbled speech and problems walking or seeing properly. Watch as neurologist Carolyn Brockington, MD, describes these fast-developing symptoms.

The classic symptoms of stroke are asymmetry in the face, weakness on one side of the body and difficulty with speaking or forming speech. Less-common symptoms affiliated or associated with stroke include loss of vision on one side or in one eye, dizziness or feeling like the room is spinning, slurred speech and numbness on one side of the body.

Trinity Health is a Catholic health care organization that acts in accordance with the Catholic tradition and does not condone or support all practices covered in this site. In case of emergency call 911. This site is educational and not a substitute for professional medical advice, always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.