IMPORTANT: THE WARNING SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STROKE
Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the US, with one person dying every 4 minutes as a result. Approximately 800,000 people have a stroke each year; about one every 40 seconds (1).
A stroke, sometimes called a “brain attack,” occurs when blood flow to an area in the brain is cut off. The brain cells, deprived of the oxygen and glucose needed to survive, die. If a stroke is not caught early, permanent brain damage or death can result (2).
Strokes need to be diagnosed and treated as quickly as possible in order to minimize brain damage.
Remembering the F.A.S.T. acronym can help with recognizing the onset of stroke (Face, Arms, Speed, Time – explained below).
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF STROKE
Watch for these signs and symptoms if you think you or someone else may be having a stroke
Trouble with speaking and understanding. You may experience confusion. You may slur your words or have difficulty understanding speech
Paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of your body. Try to raise both your arms over your head at the same time. If one arm begins to fall, you may be having a stroke. Similarly, one side of your mouth may droop when you try to smile
Trouble with seeing in one or both eyes
A sudden, severe headache, which may be accompanied by vomiting, dizziness or altered consciousness
You may stumble or experience sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination (3).
F. A. S. T
Face. Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward? Or is one arm unable to raise up?
Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is his or her speech slurred or strange?
Time. If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Knowing the signs of a stroke is the first step in stroke prevention. Watch an instructional video by survivors of stroke on the importance of recognizing stroke body language and symptoms.