In a stroke, time lost is brain lost. Learn how to act F.A.S.T.

For World Stroke Day, we are spreading the word about acting F.A.S.T.—a simple test that anyone can do to diagnose a stroke by identifying the most common symptoms.

Do you know how to identify the symptoms of a stroke? Knowing what to look for could help you save a life, including your own. Stroke is the leading cause of disability in America and the No. 1 reason for nursing home admissions. Stroke is also the fifth highest cause of death in the U.S. — a person dies from a stroke every four minutes.

When a stroke hits, every second counts. “Time is brain,” says Dr. Thomas Devlin, director of the Erlanger Southeast Regional Stroke Center. “A few minutes can mean the difference between a full recovery and severe disability—or even death. When a stroke occurs, there is a lack of blood flow to the brain, and brain cells begin to die within minutes.” Concludes Dr. Devlin, “If you even think it’s a stroke, it’s time to act fast.”

And it’s time to know F.A.S.T. To help the public identify a stroke and respond quickly, a group of doctors and medical personnel invented F.A.S.T. When you suspect you or a loved one is experiencing a stroke, remember:

  • F = Face drooping: Ask the person experiencing symptoms to smile. Is one side of their face drooping?
  • A = Arm Weakness: Tell the person to close their eyes and raise their arms above their head. Is the person unable to lift one or both arms?
  • S = Speech Problems: When the person speaks, is their speech slurred, or are they having issues speaking or understanding words?
  • T = Time to call 911: If the person is experiencing any of the above signs, call 911 immediately.

Additionally, the victim may suffer these other common symptoms:

  • Sudden dizziness
  • Difficulty walking, lack of coordination
  • Severe headache
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg—particularly on one side
  • Blurred or double vision, lack of vision

Although knowing the symptoms of an attack is significant in the fight against stroke, there’s a much better way to defend yourself. “It’s imperative that the medical community emphasize the importance of preventing a stroke from occurring,” continues Dr. Devlin. “We urge anyone who has a risk factor for stroke to talk to their doctor about how to reduce risks and prevent a stroke before it happens.”

A higher risk of stroke includes the following risk factors:

  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • High Cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Prior Stroke
  • Family History of Stroke

Erlanger Southeast Regional Stroke Center is one of the largest stroke centers in the nation and a world leader in interventional care. Learn more about our 24/7 stroke coverage, clinical trials and advanced treatments.