Stroke: Signs and Symptoms

The expression “time is brain” reflects a devastating reality: an estimated 1.9 million brain cells are lost during a stroke. Stroke can lead to paralysis, loss of speech, memory, vision, diminished reasoning—and sometimes death. It is critical that a stroke victim receive evaluation and proper treatment quickly to minimize the injury to the brain tissue.

Most Americans can’t name the warning signs of stroke, yet knowing when to seek immediate care can make all the difference. Use FAST to remember warning signs:

FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Other less common symptoms of stroke may include sudden nausea or vomiting, fainting, confusion, seizures or coma. Stroke patients show different symptoms depending on the type of stroke (Ischemic stroke, Hemorrhagic stroke), where exactly the stroke occurs in their brain and how acute the injury. While some stroke symptoms happen suddenly and simultaneously, some can occur over hours or several small strokes can happen over time. These “mini-strokes” – called Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) – happen when, for a short time, less blood than normal gets to the brain. A TIA lasts from a few minutes up to a day – and you may or may not notice mild signs of stroke. TIAs can be a warning sign of a more severe stroke to come, so seek immediate medical care.

If you suspect you or someone with you is experiencing a stroke, call 911 immediately.