Suspect a Stroke? Act F.A.S.T. to Save a Life

When it comes to signs of a stroke, every second counts. Acting fast and seeking immediate treatment can lessen the brain damage and disabilities that strokes can cause.

Knowing the signs of a stroke now, can significantly help you and your loved ones take action in the future — and it can even save lives!

Did you know that more than 795,000 people in the U.S. have a stroke every year? About 610,000 of these are first or new strokes. 

Nearly 1 in 4 stroke victims are people who have had a previous stroke, and about 87% are ischemic strokes (when blood flow to the brain is blocked).

What are the signs of a stroke?

A stroke is a medical emergency; prompt treatment is critical. Taking action early can reduce brain damage and other complications. That being said, fewer people die of a stroke now than in the past, and there are effective treatments to help prevent disabilities caused by it.

If you or your loved one is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately and pay attention to when the symptoms began. Some treatment options are more effective when given right after a stroke begins. Here are a few signs of a stroke to watch for:

  • Sudden difficulty speaking and understanding what others are saying (including confusion and slurring words).
  • Sudden numbness or paralysis in the face, arm, or leg, especially if on one side of the body. 
  • Sudden difficulty with your vision; inability to see in one or both eyes.
  • Problems walking, increased and sudden dizziness, loss of balance, and/or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Act FAST to help stroke patients

The treatments that work best are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of when symptoms first begin. This is why it’s critical to seek treatment immediately.

The best way to remember how to identify the signs of a stroke is to “act F.A.S.T:”

  • F – Face: Try to smile. Does one side of your smile or face droop?
  • A – Arms: Raise both arms over your head. If one arm begins to fall, you may be having a stroke.
  • S – Speech: Try to repeat a simple phrase. Is your speech slurred or strange?
  • T – Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1.

Do NOT attempt to drive to the hospital. Unless you live right next to an emergency room, dial 9-1-1 for an ambulance so that a medical team can begin the life-saving treatment on the way to the ER.

Do not wait to see if symptoms stop. The longer a stroke goes untreated, the greater the potential for disability and brain damage.

Want to learn more about your brain health? Check out our blog, 11 Foods to Help Boost Your Memory + Best Brain Games for All Ages.

What is a transient ischemic attack?

In some cases, the stroke symptoms may go away after a few minutes. In this case, you may have had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) (also known as a “mini-stroke.”) 

While “mini-stroke” sounds much less daunting, don’t be fooled. TIA is a sign of a serious condition that will not go away without medical help.

TIAs are typically an early warning sign that a person is at risk of stroke. About 1 in 3 people who had a TIA experience a subsequent stroke, usually within 48 hours. 

The symptoms are similar to those of a stroke:

  • Numbness or muscle weakness, especially on one side of the body.
  • Slurred speech and difficulty speaking or understanding speech.
  • Double vision or difficulty seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Dizziness or loss of balance and coordination.

These symptoms usually last only a few minutes but can persist for up to 24 hours. Unfortunately, many people ignore TIAs. Paying attention to a mini-stroke can save your life. Since the signs of TIA and stroke are identical, it’s critical to still act FAST and seek immediate medical attention.

Download and print out our free, printable guide to identifying the signs of a stroke. Tape this on your fridge, desk, or wall to save for later — you could save a life!

ER Near Me May Offer Know the SIgns of a Stroke