Call 911

Stroke is a medical emergency. With timely treatment, the risk of death and disability from stroke can be lowered. It’s important to know the symptoms and act in time; the first 3 hours are critical, brain cells are dying.

Locate a primary stroke center
near you.

Signs and Symptoms

Knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke and getting medical treatment in the first 3 hours is critical in lowering the risk of disability and even death and to minimize the damage and maximize recovery. If you have a stroke caused by a clot, you may be able to receive the clot-busting drug t-PA.

A sudden change in someone's ability to function is not normal, and a "wait and see" attitude could mean a life of disability. Brain injury is progressive, so symptoms should not be ignored.

All of the major symptoms of stroke appear suddenly, and often there is more than one symptom at the same time. If you recognize any of these signs, even if they go away, call 911 (not the person’s doctor) immediately and tell the operator, paramedics, or emergency room staff, “I think this is a stroke”.

Women do not always experience the classic signs and symptoms of stroke.

See Women and Stroke.

What are the warning signs?

Sudden numbness, weakness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body

Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes

Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, drowsiness or loss of balance and coordination, especially when associated with any of the other symptoms

Questions to ask?

F = FACE Ask the person to smile.
Does one side of the face droop?
A = ARM Ask the person to raise both arms.
Does one arm drift downward?
S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
T = TONGUE Ask the person to stick out their tongue.
Is the tongue crooked or does it go to one side or the other?
If you answered YES to any of the above, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY!


American Stroke Association

Centers of Disease Control and Prevention

National Stroke Association

Peninsula Stroke Association

Stroke Awareness Foundation