Stroke Symptoms/Warning Signs

Can you spot a stroke? Think ‘FAST.’

Stroke is a medical emergency. Treatment is available, but only if a stroke is recognized in time.

FAST is an easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke:

F Face drooping. Is one side of the face drooping or numb? Ask the person to smile. Do you notice an asymmetry in the smile?

A Arm weakness. Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Is there any difficulty in keeping an arm up?

S Speech difficulty. Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Ask the person to say a simple sentence such as “My name is …”

T Time to call 911. If the person shows any of these symptoms – even if they quickly go away – call 911 immediately.

Other Stroke Symptoms

Though FAST can help you identify the main symptoms of stroke, they aren’t the only signs.

Signs of a stroke depend on the side of the brain that’s affected, the part of the brain affected, and how severely the brain is injured. A stroke may be completely painless.

Other stroke symptoms include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Respond Quickly

Because stroke doesn’t typically hurt, many people delay seeking treatment. The most important thing to remember is “time is brain.”

Most strokes are caused by blood clots. Physicians have only a limited time – three to four and a half hours – to safely give clot-busting drugs. Treatments to extract clots can be performed up to six to eight hours after symptoms appear.

Preventing Strokes

Many strokes can be prevented by being proactive with your primary preventive care. Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the single greatest modifiable risk factor. Check your blood pressure regularly.

A doctor should follow any blood pressure readings consistently more than 140/90.

Other conditions associated with increased risk of stroke include:

  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heath disease
  • Abnormal heart rhythm