Signs of Stroke

It takes only a minute to learn the signs of stroke — and someday, it could save your life.

According to the American Stroke Association, the major signs of stroke 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 in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

You should also be able to recognize the signs of stroke in others. Severe stroke sufferers may be too impaired to recognize their own signs, so they'll depend on you for help. And timing is everything. The sooner you notice someone may be suffering from stroke and get appropriate medical help for them, the better his or her chances of recovery.

The F.A.S.T. test is an easy way to remember and recognize the signs of stroke in others:

F = Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of his or her 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, such as, "You can't teach an old dog new tricks." Do they slur the words? Can he or she repeat the sentence correctly?

T = Time: If the person has any of the aforementioned symptoms, ACT FAST! Call 911 immediately, even if the symptoms begin to pass.

If you recognize any of the signs of stroke in yourself or someone you know, call 911 immediately. Every minute stroke goes untreated could mean the loss of nearly two million brain cells.

Find out more about stroke, stroke risk factors, and stroke care in our FAQs.