The signs and symptoms of stroke can vary widely and can occur at the same time. Symptoms depend upon the type of stroke, the severity of the "brain attack" and the area of the brain affected.
The signs of a stroke can manifest themselves without warning. Many who experience stroke symptoms are not aware that they're having a stroke.
If you and your loved ones are able to recognize the signs of stroke, you'll be more able to call for lifesaving treatment, if needed.
In general, stroke symptoms can be identified with the "F.A.S.T." system:
- F — Face drooping: Does your face droop on one side or is it numb? Is your smile uneven? Can you smile and show all teeth?
- A — Arm weakness: Is the arm numb? Are they equally strong? Can you raise both arms and hold them up? Are they at equal height?
- S — Speech difficulty: Is it slurred or garbled? Can you speak normal sentences? Say a simple sentence and see if you understand.
- T — Time: Don't waste it! If you or someone you love has any symptoms of stroke, call 911 immediately!
The symptoms of stroke depend on what part of the brain is damaged. In some cases, you may not even be aware that you have had a stroke. Symptoms usually develop suddenly and without warning, or they may occur on and off for the first day or two. Symptoms are usually most severe when the stroke first happens, but they may slowly get worse.
Someone having a stroke might experience a headache, especially if the stroke is caused by bleeding in the brain. The headache:
- Starts suddenly and may be severe.
- Occurs when lying flat.
- Wakes you up from sleep.
- Gets worse when you change positions or when you bend, strain, or cough.
These stroke symptoms depend on the severity of the stroke and what part of the brain is affected:
- Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg.
- Difficulty speaking or understanding; sluggish speech.
- Blurred vision or trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Unexplained dizziness, confusion or loss or balance and coordination.
- Sudden or severe headache with no known cause.
What to Do
Call 911 immediately if there are signs of stroke. Do NOT attempt to transport yourself or the person suffering a stroke to the hospital on your own.
Calling 911 ensures that stroke sufferers receive potentially lifesaving pre-hospital treatment (on the way to the hospital) and the fastest access to emergency room care.
Reacting quickly to the signs of stroke makes it possible for our stroke teams to provide the newest medications and treatments. For example, clot-busting treatments for ischemic strokes only can be used within three hours after the first signs of stroke.
Remember, stroke is a medical emergency and "time is brain." The sooner you can secure medical treatment, the greater the chances of limiting brain cell damage.
HonorHealth has three certified Primary Stroke Centers in the Valley. For more information, contact the Primary Stroke Center nearest you:
Scottsdale Osborn Medical Center
7400 E. Osborn Road
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
John C. Lincoln Medical Center
250 E. Dunlap Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85020
Deer Valley Medical Center
19829 N. 27th Ave.
Phoenix, AZ 85027