Stroke symptoms vary considerably, depending upon:

  • The type of stroke.
  • The part of the brain that is affected.
  • The severity of the brain damage.

Primary Symptoms

Usually, symptoms start suddenly and disability is clear right away.

  • Weakness or paralysis of some part of the body, with or without a headache.
  • Symptoms may get progressively worse over a few hours or days.
  • Symptoms may come and go.
  • Mini-stroke symptoms may last only a few minutes and go away completely.
If you suspect that you are having a stroke, call 911 right away. Do not drive to the hospital yourself.
If you are having a mini-stroke, the symptoms may go away before you get to the hospital. However, you still need to be evaluated immediately. 

The National Stroke Association suggests following the FAST” guideline below if you suspect that you or someone in your care may be having a stroke.

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 sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
TIME:  If you observe any of these signs, it’s time to call 911 or go to the nearest stroke center or hospital.

Other Symptoms

  • Dizziness, trouble walking, or problems with coordination and balance
  • Sleepiness, less response, lack of awareness, or coma
  • Changes in sense of touch, pressure, temperature, or pain
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty speaking or
  • inability to understand speech
  • Vomiting or difficulty swallowing
  • Problems with reading or writing
  • Vision impairment
  • Problems identifying objects or knowing their uses
  • An intense, sudden headache
  • Numbness or muscle weakness in body parts such as the face, arms, or legs – often only on one side


Last Updated March 2023

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