What are the symptoms of a stroke?

Scott A. Scherr, MD
Emergency Medicine
Face drooping, arm weakness, speech problems and time should dictate whether you visit the emergency room, says Scott Scherr, MD, from Sunrise Hospital. Learn why by watching this video.
Mandy J. Binning, MD
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 healthcare provider.
Most strokes typically involve inability to move one side of the body or the other. In this video, neurointerventional surgeon Samuel Hou, MD, of Los Robles Hospital & Medical Center, shares some examples of stroke symptoms. 
The most widely recognized symptoms of a stroke include:
  • numbness or weakness in the face, arms or legs, particularly on one side of the body
  • sudden disorientation, confusion or trouble speaking
  • trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • difficulty in walking, lack of coordination, dizziness or a loss of balance
  • severe, sudden headache without a known cause
It is crucial to treat stroke victims as soon as possible. The American Stroke Association recommends that a person having a stroke get treated within 60 minutes of walking into the hospital emergency room.
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.
All strokes have similar symptoms, says Phaniraj Iyengar, MD, a vascular neurologist at Sunrise Hospital. In this video, he lists symptoms such as inability to move the face or arm, trouble talking and walking, numbness, tingling and severe headache.
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 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.
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.

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.
Intermountain Healthcare
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.
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% 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.
 Dr. Kathleen Handal, MD
Emergency Medicine
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....
Kelly Traver
Internal Medicine

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.

Continue Learning about Stroke Warning Signs & Symptoms

Stroke Warning Signs & Symptoms

Stroke Warning Signs & Symptoms

It's important to take action at the first sign of a stroke to prevent death and minimize its damage to your health. Signs of stroke include any sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, change or loss of vision, troubl...

e speaking or understanding speech, dizziness or imbalance and severe headache. One way to remember stroke symptoms is to use the acronym FAST: face, arms, speech and time. If you see anyone experiencing drooping of the face, problems with raising an arm or slurred speech, call 911 right away. Learn more about recognizing stroke in men and women and what to do when someone is experiencing a stroke with expert advice from Sharecare.

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.