Do you know the warning signs of a stroke? Act F.A.S.T.

Brain Health

by Baylor Scott & White Health

Jan 30, 2022

If you or someone around you was experiencing a stroke, could you spot the signs?

A stroke happens when a clot or rupture interrupts blood flow to the brain. Without oxygen-rich blood, brain cells die.

Knowing the early warning signs of this medical emergency can be the difference between life and death, recovery or disability.

Stroke treatment and outcomes depend on how fast you get to the hospital and the type of stroke the person had. The quicker you recognize the most common symptoms of a stroke and get help, the more time doctors have to administer clot-busting drugs or other therapies.

Stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S. A stroke can happen to anyone—any age, any time. But thanks to advancements in stroke treatment, survival rates continue to improve dramatically.

When it comes to stroke, every minute counts. Use the FAST acronym from the American Stroke Association to recognize the warning signs.

F.A.S.T. warning signs

F=Face drooping

Ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven? Does one side of the face droop or feel numb?

A=Arm weakness

Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S=Speech difficulty

Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Are the words slurred?

T=Time to call 911

If the answer to any of these is yes, call 911 right away. Stroke treatment begins the moment first responders arrive, and they can alert the hospital that a stroke patient is on the way.

Other common and sudden signs of stroke

  • NUMBNESS or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • CONFUSION, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • TROUBLE SEEING in one or both eyes
  • TROUBLE WALKING, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • SEVERE HEADACHE with no known cause

Although some strokes are associated with headaches, many happen without accompanying pain. Even if symptoms vanish after a short time, it’s vital to still get medical help.

Types of strokes

The type of stroke affects treatment and recovery. There are three main stroke types, including:

  • Ischemic stroke occurs when a clot obstructs blood flow to the brain. It accounts for 87% of strokes
  • Hemorrhagic stroke happens when a blood vessel ruptures and prevents blood flow to the brain
  • Transient ischemic attack (TIA), also called a “mini-stroke,” is caused by a serious blood clot.

Diagnosing stroke

Doctors can perform several tests to diagnose strokes, such as:

  • Monitor your blood pressure
  • Control your cholesterol
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke—period

Preventing stroke

Most strokes can be prevented by making smart health choices. Medications and lifestyle both matter when it comes to a prevention checklist. To lower your stroke risk:

  • Monitor your blood pressure
  • Control your cholesterol
  • Eat a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Don’t smoke—period

Are you at risk for stroke? Take our quiz and find out today.

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