Health News

Act "F.A.S.T." -- Know the Signs of a Stroke

July 22, 2015 - Strokes can affect people of all ages and backgrounds, and are the No. 5 cause of death and the leading cause of adult disability in the United States, according to the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Stroke is a disease that affects the arteries leading to the brain. A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts (or ruptures). When that happens, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it and brain cells die.

Here are some important stroke warning signs that could help to save the life of you or a loved one. The faster a stroke victim receives medical attention, the greater their chances are of survival and recovery. A simple way to remember the major signs of a stroke is: “F.A.S.T.”

Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is their smile uneven?

Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or difficult to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 9-1-1: If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if they go away, please call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Be sure to check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Other Stroke Symptoms

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg, arm or face.
  • Confusion or trouble understanding.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Stroke Prevention

Because more than half of the world’s stroke deaths are caused by elevated blood pressure levels, keeping your blood pressure under control can reduce your risk of heart attack and stroke. We recommend exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet low in sodium, maintaining a reasonable weight, not smoking, and limiting your alcohol intake. Additionally, prevent or control diabetes, and get your cholesterol checked regularly.