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The FAST Way to Identify Stroke

The FAST Way to Identify Stroke

Author: Prabhjot Singh Khalsa, MD
Specialty: Neurology


When it comes to a stroke, time is of the essence. Each minute that passes before receiving help, increases the amount of permanent damage done to the brain.

In fact, according to research published by the American Heart Association, “Every minute in which a large vessel ischemic stroke [the most common type of stroke] is untreated, the average patient loses 1.9 million neurons [brain cells], 13.8 billion synapses [connections between brain cells], and 12 km (7 miles) of axonal fibers [nerve fibers]. Each hour in which treatment fails to occur, the brain loses as many neurons as it does in almost 3.6 years of normal aging.”

That’s why knowing the warning signs of a stroke and reacting quickly is so important.

Remember to Act FAST

Stroke symptoms are different for everyone. Whether you experience multiple warning signs or just one, if you suspect you may be having a stroke, seek help immediately. Not sure what you should be looking for? The most common warning signs are easily recalled with the acronym FAST:

F is for Facial Drooping – This typically occurs on one side of the face. If you or a loved one’s smile suddenly seems unusually crooked or lopsided, this can be an indicator of a stroke.

A is for Arm Weakness – Though it’s most common in arms, sudden weakness, numbness or loss of normal function of any appendage is cause for concern.

S is Speech Difficulty – Slurred speech or difficulty speaking are classic stroke symptoms. This may or may not be experienced in conjunction with confusion or reduced comprehension.

T is for Time to call 911 ­­– Treating stroke is a race against time. To give yourself or your loved one the best chance for survival and recovery, call 911 immediately.

A Stroke is Always an Emergency

If you’re not bleeding, broken or in pain, it may be tempting to have a loved one drive you to a hospital or wait to see if your symptoms go away. But a stroke is a serious health concern that, if not treated in a timely manner, can be life-threatening. In fact, stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the third leading cause of death in the United States.

If you, a loved one, or even a person standing next to you, are experiencing any of the signs of a stroke, we encourage you to act FAST.

Posted May, 2019