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Symptoms of a Stroke

A stroke is an emergency situation. It’s important to know the signs of a stroke and get help quickly. Call 9-1-1 or your local emergency number right away. Treatment is most effective when started right away.

Symptoms may include: 

  • Weakness, drooping, or numbness of the face, arm, or leg, usually on one side of the body
  • Having trouble reading, speaking, or understanding
  • Problems with vision, such as dimness or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
  • Problems with movement or walking
  • Fainting (loss of consciousness) or seizure
  • Severe headaches with no known cause, especially if they happen suddenly

Other less common symptoms of stroke may include:

  • Sudden nausea or vomiting not caused by a viral illness
  • Brief loss or change of consciousness, such as fainting, confusion, seizures, or coma
  • TIA (Transient Ischemic Attack, or mini-stroke)

A TIA is a serious condition and can cause many of the same symptoms as a stroke. But TIA symptoms pass, while stroke symptoms don't. They can last for a few minutes or up to 24 hours. Call for medical help right away if you think someone is having a TIA. An immediate medical evaluation is critical because the TIA symptoms may be a warning sign that a stroke is about to occur. But not all TIAs are followed by a stroke.

BE FAST is an easy way to remember the signs of a stroke. When you see these signs, you will know that you need to call 9-1-1 fast. BE FAST stands for:

B – Balance. Does the person have a sudden loss of balance?

E – Eyes. Has the person lost vision in one or both eyes?

F - Face drooping. One side of the face is drooping or numb. When the person smiles, the smile is uneven.

A - Arm weakness. One arm is weak or numb. When the person lifts both arms at the same time, one arm may drift downward.

S - Speech difficulty. You may see slurred speech or difficulty speaking. The person can't repeat a simple sentence correctly when asked.

T - Time to call 9-1-1. If someone shows any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 right away. Call even if the symptom goes away. Make note of the time the symptoms first appeared.