Health Library

Categories > Heart Health > Stroke

Different stroke signs for different folks

A recent National Stroke Association Survey found that one in three Americans can’t name a single stroke symptom. What’s more, women are more likely to experience different, nontraditional symptoms than men do—leading to delayed treatment. This delay can be deadly. Fast action must be taken to restore the brain’s blood flow.

Know all the symptoms

Stroke symptoms common to men and women include sudden onset of:

  • numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • difficulty walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • severe headache with no known cause
  • problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception

Women may experience sudden onset of:

  • pain in the face, chest, arms or legs
  • a seizure
  • a pounding or racing heartbeat
  • hiccups
  • nausea
  • general weakness or fatigue
  • shortness of breath
  • loss of consciousness, fainting, falls or accidents

Every minute counts

To help remember the most common stroke symptoms and seek prompt medical treatment, think of the acronym FAST:

Face. Does one side of the face drop when asked to smile?

Arms. When raising both arms, does one arm drift downward?

Speech. When trying to repeat a simple sentence, are the words slurred or incorrect?

Time. Rush to emergency care immediately for evaluation and treatment.