Loading icon
Press enter or spacebar to select a desired language.
Health Information Center

Symptoms of Stroke

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:

Condition InDepth

Symptoms of Stroke

Symptoms of stroke happen when blood going to part of the brain is stopped. Problems can happen quickly and differ based on the part of the brain that is affected. Many symptoms can happen at the same time because the blocked or bleeding blood vessels may bring blood to a large part of the brain that does more than one job. The brain may not be able to do some tasks.

A person with any of the following symptoms should seek emergency medical services right away.

Blood Supply and Lack of Blood Supply to the Brain.

http://services.epnet.com/getimage.aspx?imageiid=7498 7498 GN00010eb.jpg GN00010eb.jpg NULL jpg GN00010eb.jpg NULL \\hgfiler01a\intellect\images\GN00010eb.jpg NULL 90 NULL 2008-12-10 240 383 7498_20209 Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

The acronym F.A.S.T. may be the easiest way to identify the signs of a stroke. It means:

  • F—Face drooping —Drooping on one side of the face, with or without numbness. A person's smile may be uneven.
  • A—Arm weakness —Lack of strength in the arm with or without numbness. A person may not be able to lift both arms. One arm may drift down.
  • S—Speech problems —A person's speech may be slurred or hard to understand. They may not be able to repeat a basic sentence.
  • T—Time to call for emergency medical services —Call right away if someone shows these signs, even if they go away. Note the time problems started and when medical help was called.

Other common signs are:

  • Sudden confusion, problems swallowing, or problems understanding what others are saying
  • Problems seeing in one or both eyes
  • Lightheadedness, falling, or loss of balance
  • Sharp headache

Stroke can cause severe, lasting harm to the brain. It can be deadly. Getting treated right away can raise the chance a person will live and lower the amount of harm. The sooner the blood flow is restored the better the results will be. A person should be treated in the first hours after signs start.


  • Stroke. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/stroke. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Stroke (acute management). EBSCO DynaMed website. https://www.dynamed.com/management/stroke-acute-management-1. Accessed March 11, 2022.
  • Stroke symptoms. National Stroke Association website. Available at: https://www.stroke.org/en/about-stroke/stroke-symptoms. Accessed March 14, 2022.
  • Winstein CJ, Stein J, Arena R, et al, American Heart Association Stroke Council, Council on Cardiovascular and Stroke Nursing, Council on Clinical Cardiology, and Council on Quality of Care and Outcomes Research.. Guidelines for Adult Stroke Rehabilitation and Recovery: A Guideline for Healthcare Professionals From the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke. 2016 Jun;47(6):e98-e169 full-text, corrections can be found in Stroke 2017 Feb;48(2):e78 and Stroke 2017 Dec;48(12):e369.


  • Rimas Lukas, MD
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.