When a stroke occurs, every minute counts. Recognizing what’s happening and beginning treatment quickly can be the difference between complete recovery and long-term disability or death. The most basic way to spot a stroke is by thinking "F.A.S.T." - Face, Arm, Speech and Time:
- Face: Has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
- Arms: Can they raise both arms and keep them there?
- Speech: Is their speech slurred? Can they repeat a simple sentence?
- Time: Call 9-1-1 immediately if you see these symptoms
Know the signs. Take immediate action.
Most strokes are caused by a blocked artery cutting off blood flow to the brain. Stroke symptoms vary widely because strokes can occur in different areas of the brain. Symptoms can appear suddenly and noticeably or may be vague and hard to identify. Don't ignore symptoms, even if they go away. Call 9-1-1 immediately if you experience:
- Difficulty speaking or understanding speech (aphasia)
- Difficulty walking
- Dizziness, including vertigo
- Numbness, paralysis or weakness, usually on one side of the body
- Seizure (relatively rare)
- Severe sudden headache with no known cause
- Slurred speech (dysarthria)
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden decrease in the level of consciousness
- Sudden loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden vision problems (e.g., blurry vision, visual loss in one side of vision or in one eye)