Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke

Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center often treats patients with stroke who did not recognize the symptoms and signs, making it more difficult for them to receive effective treatment.

“People who don't know what a stroke is may lie down to sleep thinking it will get better or avoid calling 911 because of the concern that an ambulance is too expensive. However, doing either one of these things right after the onset of stroke symptoms will delay treatment,” said Cheryl Bushnell, MD, associate professor of neurology at Wake Forest Baptist. “Recognizing the symptoms and signs is critical in order to receive treatment in the window of three to four and a half hours.”

A stroke is the sudden death of a portion of brain cells due to the lack of oxygen that occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked or damaged.

As scary and deadly as this is, there are signs and symptoms that are important to be aware of in order to save your life and others.

Bushnell suggests that everyone know the following signs of a stroke and what to do if someone is experiencing a stroke.

Stroke signs and symptoms: 

  • If one side of an individual’s face is weak, numb or paralyzed. 
  • If they are unable to speak or understand clearly. 
  • If they have blurry or loss of vision. 
  • If they are dizzy or lose their balance. 
  • If they have a sudden and severe headache.

If you suspect someone is having a stroke, remember the FAST acronym: 

  • FACE: Ask the person to smile. See if one side of their face droops. 
  • ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. See if one arm drifts downward. 
  • SPEECH: Ask them to repeat a simple sentence. Listen to see if their speech is slurred or strange. 
  • TIME: Every minute counts. If the individual is having difficulty with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately.

Learn about neurosurgery and neurology services at Wake Forest Baptist Health.

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Last Updated: 02-18-2014
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Disclaimer: The information on this website is for general informational purposes only and SHOULD NOT be relied upon as a substitute for sound professional medical advice, evaluation or care from your physician or other qualified health care provider.