Symptoms of Stroke


An ambulance should be called immediately if a person shows the following symptoms: 

  • Unexpected weakness, numbness or paralysis of the muscles of leg, arm or face usually on one side of the body. If a person loses mobility of the left side of his body, it means that the right hemisphere of the brain is affected, and vice versa;
  • Slurred or unintelligible speech;
  • Sudden, decreased vision in one or both eyes;l
  • Unexpected difficulty walking or standing, impaired judgment, loss of coordination or balance;
  • Severe headaches of unknown origin. Pains are commonly accompanied by seeing dark spots.

Transient ischemic attacks are also called micro-strokes, and are caused by the temporary decrease in the blood flow to the brain. The symptoms of these attacks are the same as those of stroke, but they last only a few minutes. As a rule, these symptoms are accompanied by an elevated blood pressure

If you suspect anyone is experiencing a stroke, call 911 without any delays. The earlier you call an ambulance, the better. In case of stroke, every minute counts.

Here are 4 basic rules which will help you remember the symptoms of stroke, they are usually abbreviated as F.A.S.T:

  • F stands for Facial drooping - ask the person to smile. If it is a stroke, then the smile will be uneven – one side of the person’s face is numb, the edge of lips on this side droops;
  • A stands for Arm weakness – ask the person to raise both hands. If it is a stroke, then one arm will be weak or numb, and the person will not be able to raise both arms at the same level;
  • S stands for Speech problems – ask the person to say something; any simple sentence will do, like “The sun is up”. If it is a stroke, the speech will be slurred, difficult to understand, or the person may be unable to talk and understand what you are saying;
  • T stands for Time – if any of the above listed signs are observed, you should call an ambulance immediately and note the time when the first symptoms appear.

FAST system

Next chapter: Tests and Diagnosis of Stroke

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