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Symptoms of a Stroke

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke. In fact, stroke is the cause of 1 out of every 20 deaths. It is also the leading cause of long-term disability. If you are having a stroke, every minute counts! To improve your chance of survival and minimize any long-term damage, you must act fast. Understanding the signs and symptoms of a stroke is the first step to getting the critical, lifesaving care you need.

If you are concerned about your risk of stroke, complete our stroke risk assessment and make an appointment with your SSM Health primary care provider to learn what you can do to reduce your risk. Then, take the time to find the SSM Health emergency room nearest to you, so you know where to go in the case of an emergency.

Signs & Symptoms of Stroke

Recognizing stroke symptoms is key to getting the right care quickly.​ The word "FAST" is an easy way to remember what to look out for.

  • FACE: ask the person to smile. Is there a droop on one side (an uneven smile)?
  • ARM: ask the person to raise both arms with their eyes closed. Does one arm drift down because of weakness? Is there arm numbness?
  • SPEECH: ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he/she repeat it? Is speech slurred or difficult to understand?
  • TIME: call 911 and get to a hospital/stroke center  immediately. The faster treatment is administered, the better the outcome.

​​In addition, sudden stroke symptoms may include:​

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion or difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache without a known cause​
All of the above warning signs may not occur with each stroke. Do not ignore any of the warning signs, even if they go away--take action immediately. 

If you think you or a loved one is having a stroke, call 911 immediately.

Emergency medical service (EMS) is the "first point of medical care." EMS providers not only initiate treatment, they also alert our emergency department so that medical staff can prepare for your arrival. Our specialized neurosciences team will be ready to provide a full range of services dedicated to the rapid assessment, evaluation and management of patients experiencing a stroke to ensure you get lifesaving care as quickly as possible.

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