Stroke Signs & Symptoms

Know the signs of a stroke

Stroke Symptoms

The symptoms of stroke depend on which part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, a person may not know that a stroke has occurred.

Most of the time, symptoms develop suddenly and without warning. However, symptoms may occur on and off for the first day or two. Symptoms are usually most severe when the stroke first happens, but they may slowly get worse.

A headache may occur if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain. The headache:

  • Starts suddenly and may be severe
  • May be worse when you are lying flat
  • Wakes you up from sleep
  • Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain, or cough

Other symptoms depend on how severe the stroke is and what part of the brain is affected. Symptoms may include:

  • Change in alertness (including sleepiness, unconsciousness, and coma)
  • Changes in hearing
  • Changes in taste
  • Changes that affect touch and the ability to feel pain, pressure, or different temperatures
  • Clumsiness
  • Confusion or loss of memory
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Difficulty writing or reading
  • Dizziness or abnormal feeling of movement (vertigo)
  • Eyesight problems, such as decreased vision, double vision, or total loss of vision
  • Lack of control over the bladder or bowels
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of coordination
  • Muscle weakness in the face, arm, or leg (usually just on one side)
  • Numbness or tingling on one side of the body
  • Personality, mood, or emotional changes
  • Trouble speaking or understanding others who are speaking
  • Trouble walking

B.E.F.A.S.T.: Know the Signs of a Stroke and When to Call 911

Stroke is a medical emergency that needs to be treated right away. The acronym B.E.F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember signs of stroke and what to do if you think a stroke has occurred. The most important action to take is to immediately call 911 for emergency assistance.

B.E.F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • BALANCE: Loss of balance
  • EYE: Vision loss
  • FACE: Face drooping
  • ARM: Arm weakness
  • SPEECH: Speech difficulty
  • TIME. If a person shows any of these symptoms, time is essential. It is important to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. Call 911.