What are the Signs of Stroke?

A stroke occurs when not enough blood reaches the brain. Blood flow to the affected part or parts of the brain may be partially obstructed or cut off completely. There are two different ways a stroke can occur:[1]

  • Ischemic stroke, in which the flow of blood to the brain is blocked or obstructed by a blood clot or fatty deposit, or any mix thereof. Four out of five strokes are ischemic[2]
  • Hemorrhagic stroke, in which there is bleeding within the brain or on the surface of the brain

Emergency services should be called immediately if a stroke is suspected. The quicker a stroke is treated, the more likely doctors will be able to manage the symptoms well and with the best possible outcome for the person involved.

F.A.S.T. and other early warning signs

An acronym, F.A.S.T., explains the telltale signs that a stroke is very likely to be happening:[1][2]

  • Face. The face suddenly becomes weak or droopy, with the effect usually more visible on one side
  • Arm. One arm suddenly becomes numb or weak, and there may be difficulty raising it
  • Speech. Speaking becomes difficult, and the affected person’s voice becomes slurred. They may be hard to understand, and what they say may not make much sense
  • Time to call. If any of the above is noticed, the emergency services should be called immediately

For example, call:

  • 911 in the U.S. and Canada
  • 112 in most European countries
  • 999 in the U.K.
  • 15 in Algeria.

A Full List of emergency numbers by country

Strokes are complex, and only one of the above signs may be present. Nevertheless, one sign of stroke on its own is enough to indicate that a person should receive medical treatment without delay.

Other warning signs of stroke

Some other common signs of stroke include the following suddenly happening:[3][4]

  • Confusion or trouble understanding what others are saying
  • Difficulty seeing or other visual problems
  • Dizziness
  • A loss of balance or coordination, and difficulty walking
  • A sudden severe headache, with no known cause
  • Short or longer lasting loss of consciousness. If the stroke is severe, the affected person may not wake up in the morning or after a nap, despite someone trying to wake them

Other potential symptoms might include:[5]

  • Tinnitus, a ringing in the ears, that will either be new and sudden or, if already regularly experienced, more severe than usual
  • Vertigo, particularly when stroke affects the brain stem
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Unusual breathing patterns
  • Sudden sleepiness or difficulty waking up

Transient ischemic attack

A transient ischemic attack (TIA), sometimes called a mini-stroke, is when the blockage of the blood supply to certain brain areas is temporary and short-lived. A TIA may lead to many of the same symptoms as a full-blown stroke, but generally only lasts for a few hours. A person affected by a TIA is more likely to experience a full stroke in the future, and the person should be taken to a hospital without delay. Emergency services should be called if this is not possible, so they can then be taken by ambulance if necessary.

Read more about Transient Ischemic Attack »

Signs of stroke in women

There is some evidence that women are more likely than men to experience certain symptoms during an ischemic stroke. These symptoms include:[6][7][8]

  • Pain
  • Headaches
  • Disorientation
  • Weakness all over the body
  • Loss of consciousness

These symptoms may be more likely to be seen in women. However, many men may also experience these symptoms during a stroke.

Signs of stroke in men

Certain symptoms are thought to be slightly more likely to be experienced by men than by women during ischemic stroke. These include:

  • A lack of balance
  • A burning or prickling sensation in the hands and feet
  • Double vision
  • Weakness on one side of the body

However, many women may also experience these symptoms during a stroke.

Signs by type of stroke

There are two types of stroke – ischemic and hemorrhagic. Hemorrhagic strokes are divided into intracerebral and subarachnoid hemorrhages.

Symptoms differ slightly across these different types of stroke. However, a doctor generally can not make a diagnosis without a brain scan such as a CT scan.[^5]

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic strokes occur when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off. This occurs when a blood vessel becomes clogged due to a blood clot, a fatty deposit, or a mix of the two. The vast majority of strokes are ischemic.[^5]

Read more about Ischemic Stroke »

Intracerebral hemorrhage

Intracerebral hemorrhage is a hemorrhagic stroke, where the bleeding takes place within the brain. The following are more likely to be experienced during an intracerebral hemorrhage than an ischemic stroke:[^6][^7]

  • Sudden headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changed mental states, such as finding it difficult to wake up or sudden sleepiness
  • Sudden loss of consciousness

Read more about intracerebral hemorrhages and hemorrhagic stroke »

Subarachnoid hemorrhage

When the bleeding does not take place inside the brain, but on the organ’s surface, it is known as a subarachnoid hemorrhage. The most common symptom of a subarachnoid hemorrhage is a sudden, explosive headache, known as a thunderclap headache.[^8][5]

There is often a phase of intense headache for days or weeks before the bleed, which may go unnoticed as an early warning sign of subarachnoid hemorrhage.

Read more about Subarachnoid Hemorrhage »


  1. Stroke symptoms and diagnosis (Beyond the Basics): Types of stroke.” UpToDate. December, 2018. Accessed: 04 January, 2019.

  2. Acute ischemic stroke and transient ischemic attack.” Evidence‐Based Neurology: Management of Neurological Disorders. 11 December, 2015. Accessed: 04 January, 2019.

  3. Stroke: Stroke Symptoms.” Patient. 27 January, 2017. Accessed: 04 January, 2019.

  4. Stroke Information Page.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. 14 June, 2018. Accessed: 04 January, 2019.

  5. Stroke (Cerebrovascular accident).” Amboss. 04 January, 2019. Accessed 04 January, 2019.

  6. Acute Stroke Symptoms: Comparing Women and Men.” Stroke. 19 February, 2009. Accessed: 04 January, 2019.

  7. Gender differences in presenting signs and symptoms of acute ischemic stroke: a population-based study.” Gender Medicine. October, 2011. Accessed: 05 January, 2019.

  8. Sex differences in stroke: Review of current knowledge and evidence.” Vascular Medicine. 03 November, 2016. Accessed: 05 January, 2019.

**Question: ⁤What⁣ are the Signs of Stroke?**


A stroke, also known ⁤as a ‍cerebrovascular accident (CVA), occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted or reduced. This can cause cells to die, leading ‍to neurological damage and potential long-term disabilities. Recognizing the signs‌ of stroke⁣ is crucial for seeking immediate medical attention and potentially reducing the severity​ of its effects.

**Key Signs ‍and Symptoms:**

1.⁣ **Sudden Weakness or Paralysis:** On⁢ one side of the body, in the face,⁢ arm, or leg.

2. **Difficulty Speaking ‌or Understanding Speech:** Slurred or incoherent speech, or comprehension issues.

3. **Vision Problems:** Blindness, double vision, or loss of ⁢vision in one eye.

4. **Dizziness or Vertigo:** Severe dizziness or a sensation of spinning.

5. **Headache:** Sudden, severe headache with no known cause.

6. **Loss of Consciousness:** Complete or partial loss of consciousness.

7. **Trouble⁣ Walking:** Difficulty with‍ walking, balance,⁤ or coordination.

**Other​ Warning Signs:**

*⁤ Nausea ​or ​vomiting

* Confusion or​ disorientation

* Fatigue or weakness

* Sensory changes (e.g., tingling or numbness)

**Remember:** The acronym **FAST** can help you identify stroke symptoms quickly:

*⁣ **F**ace​ drooping

* **A**rm weakness

* **S**peech difficulty

* **T**ime to call for‍ help ⁣immediately

**When ‌to Seek Medical Attention:**

If​ you or someone you know experiences ‌any of these symptoms, call 911 or your local emergency⁣ number immediately. Timely ‌medical intervention ‌can significantly improve‍ outcomes in stroke cases.

**Additional Information:**

* Transient ⁢ischemic attacks⁤ (TIAs) are‌ temporary interruptions of blood flow to the brain that can cause similar symptoms to strokes but resolve quickly. TIAs are a warning sign and require prompt evaluation to prevent a future stroke.

* The type and severity ‍of stroke ‍symptoms‌ can vary depending on the location and extent⁣ of the blockage or damage‍ in the brain.

* Risk factors for stroke include⁣ high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking,​ heart ‍disease, and‍ family history.

* If you have any concerns about⁣ your ‍risk of stroke ​or have experienced‍ any potential​ symptoms, consult your doctor⁤ for assessment and advice on preventive measures.

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