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How to Recognize Stroke Signs and Symptoms

Treating a stroke quickly is key to preventing death or disability. Here are the telltale stroke signs and symptoms.


  • Step 1: Never ignore the sudden onset of a severe headache unlike any experienced before. In the case of stroke, head pain may be accompanied by vomiting or dizziness.
  • Step 2: Remember the acronym FAST for a quick stroke test: F stands for face: See if a smile is lopsided due to partial paralysis. A stands for arms: See if both arms can be raised. Speech: Check for slurred speech. T stands for time: If any of these symptoms surface, it's time to get help!
  • Step 3: If you recognize any stroke signs and symptoms in yourself or anyone else, get medical help immediately -- even if the symptoms seem to go away as quickly as they appeared. The sooner the treatment, the better the chances for a full recovery.
  • FACT: Up to 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by working with a healthcare professional to reduce personal risk, according to studies.
  • Step 4: Sudden difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes can be a stroke symptom, so have blurred, blackened, or double vision checked out by a doctor right away.
  • TIP: Ask a person who's suddenly slurring their words to say, "No ifs, ands, or buts." Trouble enunciating that sentence can signal a stroke.
  • Step 5: Know what a stroke is: Sometimes called a brain attack, a stroke occurs when a clot blocks the blood supply to the brain, or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts.
  • Step 6: Watch for stroke signs and symptoms such as sudden numbness, tingling, weakness, or paralysis of the face, arm, or leg, especially if it's just on one side of the body. Sudden dizziness, trouble walking, and loss of balance or coordination may also indicate that a stroke is in progress.
  • TIP: The inability to raise both arms can also indicate a stroke.
  • Step 7: Beware of an abrupt onset of mental confusion, like sudden difficulty speaking or the inability to process what others are saying. These are also often signs and symptoms of a stroke.
  • : Don't delay in getting medical help if you suspect you or anyone else is having a stroke. Call 911 immediately.

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