Know the Signs of a Stroke

Man leans on the kitchen sink while holding a cup of water

A stroke happens when blood cannot reach a part of the brain, which deprives brain cells of oxygen and nutrients. Recognizing the signs and immediately calling emergency services increases the chances of a successful recovery.

F.A.S.T. is a simple way to remember the main symptoms of a stroke. These symptoms can happen suddenly. F.A.S.T stands for:

Face drooping. Ask the person to smile. Look for drooping on one side of the face.

Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms to the same height. One arm may drift downward or not raise at all.

Speech. Ask the person to speak. Listen for slurred or incomprehensible speech.

Time to call 911. When activating emergency medical services, note the time symptoms started and other possible signs of stroke.

Other symptoms of stroke may include:

  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Sudden change of consciousness, such as fainting, confusion or seizures.
  • Sudden loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden, severe headache.
  • Sudden trouble understanding simple statements.
  • Sudden vision impairments, such as double vision.

A stroke occurs every 40 seconds in the U.S. Recognizing the symptoms of a stroke and calling 911 immediately can make a significant difference in treatment options and recovery outcomes.

If you are concerned about strokes, make an appointment with our care team at Northwest Regional Heart & Vascular by visiting

Sources: American Stroke Association; National Institute on Aging