11 Signs and Symptoms of Stroke

Stroke signs and symptoms can affect different parts of the body. You probably aren't sure whether or not you would be able to recognize signs and symptoms of a stroke if you or someone else had any. Most signs and symptoms of stroke are unsettling enough that they would be hard to ignore—if you know what to look for.

Whether you are at work, at a family or social gathering or even in a public setting, you could save someone's life if you recognize these 11 signs and symptoms of stroke. You should not attempt to medically aid a stroke victim, but you should call 911 right away

And if you experience any of these symptoms yourself, do not wait—call 911 or get attention from someone nearby to call 911 for you.

Woman accidentally pouring too much milk
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Slurred Speech

Sudden onset of slurred speech or trouble with words may be the result of a stroke. Slurred speech is a serious warning sign to get medical attention right away.


Weakness of one or both legs can cause falling. A stroke that affects the balance center of the brain can cause a stroke victim to fall. Serious strokes can also induce sudden loss of consciousness, which may manifest as falling. If you or someone nearby falls, this is an urgent situation that requires emergency medical care.

Uneven Appearing Face

The brainstem controls the muscles of the face and eyelids. If your face or someone else’s face appears lopsided or if the eyelids are uneven, this is caused by a weakness of the muscles that move the face. A brainstem stroke can start subtly with a painless droopy mouth but can progress very quickly to stop breathing. Anyone who has a sudden appearance of asymmetry of the face needs an expert evaluation ASAP.

Changes in Vision or Double Vision 

Normal vision requires a complex series of interactions between the eyes, the nerves and several regions of the brain to produce a "picture" of vision. When any of the connections are disrupted by a stroke, double vision or loss of a section of vision results. This is painless, but disturbing. Sudden visual changes including double vision require emergency evaluation and treatment to help preserve as much vision as possible for the long term.

Can't Say the Right Words

When you notice that someone is using the wrong words or obviously misunderstanding speech, this is a typical sign of stroke. Language is controlled by several large areas of the brain that are particularly vulnerable to stroke due to the arrangement of blood vessels in the brain. Some stroke victims are aware of the language deficit, while others are completely unaware of the problem and need help from a stroke care team immediately.

Dropping Objects

Weakness most often manifests with dropping items or inability to lift items. When this happens, particularly on one side of the body involving the hand or the whole arm, the cause often turns out to be a stroke or a TIA


A variety of medical emergencies cause confusion, and stroke is one of the most commonly associated with confusion. It is impossible to diagnose the cause without a thorough medical evaluation—and postponing care for sudden confusion is undoubtedly the worst possible thing to do.

Inappropriate Behavior

Inappropriate behavior can be annoying or offensive. It may make you actually want to avoid a stroke victim. However, because the brain is responsible for integrating high-level decision-making, any stroke can interfere with judgment. People who appear to demonstrate sudden changes in behavior need medical attention. Not only is the stroke an urgent emergency, but prevention of dangerous consequences that can result from faulty decision-making is crucial as well.


This is the most often brushed-off symptom of stroke. Often, only the patient is aware of this problem and may not tell companions. However, numbness is one of the signs of stroke and TIA and getting professional medical help right away can help prevent other more disabling effects from occurring.


This can result from a stroke affecting the cerebellum,​ the brainstem, or the cerebral cortex. Clumsiness results from lack of balance, weakness, sensation problems, or a combination of any of these.

Loss of Consciousness

Large strokes or even small strokes located in the brainstem can cause loss of consciousness or passing out. It is absolutely crucial to get emergency help right away, as a stroke that results in loss of consciousness can be fatal.

You can recognize stroke symptoms. The good news is that with emergency medical attention and treatment, most stroke victims can survive and experience significant neurological recovery.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Stroke signs and symptoms. Last reviewed August 28, 2020.

  2. American Stroke Association. Stroke symptoms.

  3. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Stroke.

By Heidi Moawad, MD
Heidi Moawad is a neurologist and expert in the field of brain health and neurological disorders. Dr. Moawad regularly writes and edits health and career content for medical books and publications.