Symptoms of stroke happen when blood going to part of your brain is stopped. They can happen quickly and differ based on the part of the brain that is affected. Many symptoms can happen at the same time because the blocked or bleeding blood vessels may bring blood to a large part of the brain that has more than one job. Your brain may not be able to do some tasks.
If you have any of the symptoms below, call for emergency medical services right away.
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The acronym F.A.S.T. may be the easiest way to recall the signs of a stroke. It means:
- F—Face drooping —Drooping on one side of the face, with or without numbness. Ask the person to smile, it should not be uneven.
- A—Arm weakness —Lack of strength in the arm with or without numbness. Can the person lift both arms? One arm may drift down.
- S—Speech problems —When the person speaks, is it slurred or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a basic sentence. Listen for any problems.
- T—Time to call for emergency medical services —Call right away if someone shows these signs, even if they go away. It is vital that you note the time they started and when you called for medical help.
Other common signs are:
- Sudden confusion, problems swallowing, or problems understanding what others are saying
- Problems seeing in one or both eyes
- Lightheadedness, falling, or loss of balance
- Sharp headache
Stroke can cause severe, lasting harm to the brain. It can be deadly. Getting treated right away can raise the chance you will live and lower the amount of harm. The sooner the blood flow is restored the better the results will be. You should be treated in the first hours after signs start. Don't drive yourself or someone else to the hospital. Emergency medical workers can help you by treating you on the way to the hospital.
Stroke. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/health-topics/topics/stroke/signs. Accessed January 18, 2019.
Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T143427/Stroke-acute-management. Updated November 27, 2018. Accessed January 18, 2019.
Warning signs of stroke. National Stroke Association website. Available at: http://www.strokeassociation.org/STROKEORG/WarningSigns/Stroke-Warning-Signs-and-Symptoms_UCM_308528_SubHomePage.jsp. Accessed January 18, 2019.
Winstein CJ, Stein J, Arena R, et al, American Heart Association Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Clinical Cardiology, and Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research.. Guidelines for Adult Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery: A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2016 Jun;47(6):e98-e169 full-text, corrections can be found in Stroke 2017 Feb;48(2):e78 and Stroke 2017 Dec;48(12):e369.
Last reviewed December 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review BoardRimas Lukas, MD Last Updated: 1/18/2019