Know the Facts
Stroke is the third leading cause of death, and the number one cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States. Approximately 795,000 people nationwide suffer a stroke each year.
A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted or drastically lessened, depriving the brain of oxygen. Brain cells begin to die within minutes. It is a medical emergency, but early action can help minimize brain damage.
Signs of a Stroke
It is important to recognize the signs of a stroke and there is an easy way to remember them.
Use the word FAST to prompt your memory:
Face drooping — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile and notice if the smile is uneven.
Arm weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Can the individual raise both arms? Does one 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, such as, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
Time to call 9-1-1. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the individual to the hospital immediately. Note the time the symptoms first appeared. Immediate medical attention may help reduce any long-lasting impairment that may be caused by a stroke.
In addition to the symptoms above, be aware of other signs that may indicate a stroke. If any of these occurs suddenly, immediately summon help.
- Weakness in the face, arm or leg, especially if it is only on one side of the body
- Confusion, trouble understanding speech
- Difficulty seeing in one or both eyes
- Trouble walking, including dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
- Severe headache with no known cause