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Signs and symptoms of stroke

Early recognition is key to seeking out emergency care.

stroke scan
Young girl concerned about grandma

Know the signs and symptoms

A stroke is an interruption in the blood flow to our brain from either a clot or a break in the blood vessel. It is critical for someone who is experiencing signs or symptoms of a stroke to be transported to the hospital by trained medical personnel immediately. Early recognition is key, and a stroke is a medical emergency. Treatment options depend on the type, source and location of the stroke.

Signs & Symptoms 

  • Sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of the body 
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech 
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes 
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness or loss of balance 
  • Sudden severe headache without a known reason 

How do I know if I'm having a stroke?

Here at St. John's we want everyone to be informed about the symptoms of a stroke. Signs of a stroke include: loss of balance, weakness, blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, confusion, headache and upset stomach. In this video, a stroke survivor shares his story.

BEFAST graphic


Use the BE FAST acronym to remember stroke warning signs. If you notice or experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately. 

B - Balance Difficulty

E - Eye changes

F - Face drooping

A - Arm weakness

S - Speech slurred

T - Time to call 911

Know your risk factors

Risk factors such as age, genetics, gender and race cannot be controlled. However, there are several risk factors that you can control. If your health care provider has already identified that you have any of these risk factors, it is very important to create a plan to help reduce your risk of stroke.

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • Alcohol consumption and illegal drug use
  • Stress
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA)
  • Inactivity
  • Unheatlhy diet
  • Abnormal cholesterol
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Carotid artery disease
  • Peripheral vascular disease