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Neurosciences Stroke Symptoms & Diagnosis

Stroke Symptoms & Diagnosis

​​​​​Stroke is the No. 4 cause of death and the No. 1 cause of long-term disability in America, and at SSM Health, we recognize that every minute counts to help reduce the long-term damage associated with stroke.

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 will also alert the emergency department so that medical staff can prepare for your arrival. This leads to quicker diagnosis and treatment. 

Stroke Symptoms

Recognizing stroke symptoms is key and getting the right care quickly is critical. The word "FAST" is an easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of stroke. 

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

Sudden stroke symptoms may also include:

  • ​​Numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Confusion
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe headache without a known cause