May 26, 2017

Stroke Symptoms – What to Know and How to Detect a Stroke

A stroke usually happens suddenly, but may occur over hours. For example, you may have mild weakness at first. Over time, you may not be able to move the arm and leg at all on one side of your body.

If you have symptoms of a stroke, call 911 or other emergency services right away.

Symptoms may include:

  • Sudden numbness, tingling, weakness or loss of movement in your face, arm or leg, especially on only one side of your body
  • Sudden vision changes
  • Sudden trouble speaking
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding simple statements
  • Sudden problems with walking or balance
  • A sudden, severe headache that is different from past headaches 

FAST is a simple way to remember the main symptoms of stroke. Recognizing these symptoms helps you know when to call for medical help.

FAST stands for:

  • Face drooping
  • Arm weakness
  • Speech difficulty
  • Time to call 911

What type of stroke could occur? 

Ischemic stroke

Symptoms of an ischemic stroke (caused by a blood clot) vary from one person to another. But symptoms usually occur on the side of the body opposite from the side of the brain where the clot occurred. For example, a stroke in the right side of the brain affects the left side of the body.

Symptoms of a stroke may be so minor that they are ignored or go unnoticed. Some people have symptoms that go away after a short time. This could be caused by a transient ischemic attack (TIA). A TIA is a warning sign that a stroke may soon follow. 

Hemorrhagic stroke

The symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke (caused by bleeding in or around the brain) are usually the same as those from a blood clot. But you also may have other symptoms, such as:

  • Severe headache, sometimes in a specific area
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Neck stiffness
  • Dizziness, seizures or changes in mental state, such as irritability, confusion and possibly unconsciousness

Hemorrhagic strokes usually occur during the daytime and during physical activity. Symptoms of a hemorrhagic stroke usually begin very suddenly (within seconds) and get worse over several hours.


Reviewed by Robin Jones, Manager, Stroke Program, Mission Health

Mission Hospital has been recognized for achieving Gold Plus and Target: Stroke Elite Plus Honor Roll recognition in the Get With The Guidelines-Stroke® program. This reflects our acute stroke treatment times and again is the highest level a hospital can achieve. Click here for more information from the American Heart Association.
To learn more, visit mission-health.com/the-nervous-system or call (828) 213-1111.