Stroke Warning Signs

Often, stroke isn’t treated as an emergency. The problem? One in three Americans can’t identify any of the symptoms. That can lead to dangerous delays in getting care. Use this F.A.S.T. action plan to tell if someone may be having a stroke. You could save a life.


  • 1.


    Ask the person to smile. A stroke can cause one side of the face to droop. Abrupt dimming of vision or a sudden, severe headache with no known cause are also warning signs.

  • 2.


    Ask the person to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downward, that could signal a stroke, which can trigger weakness, numbness or paralysis of an arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body. Sufferers may also have unexplained loss of balance, or a sudden fall.

  • 3.


    Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Stroke victims may slur their words, have trouble speaking or understanding speech, or not be able to talk at all.

  • 4.


    If the person has any of these symptoms, call 911. Stroke is a life-or-death emergency in which every minute counts. To have any hope of reversing the effects, a patient must get tPA within three hours, or the Merci Retriever procedure within eight hours. For more information, visit the manufacturer’s website,, or the National Stroke Association at

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