Stroke Warning Signs

Think you are having a stroke? Call 9-1-1 IMMEDIATELY!

F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you can spot the signs, you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away. F.A.S.T. is:

Face Drooping
Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.

Arm Weakness
Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

Speech Difficulty
Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "the sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?

Time to call 911
If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

Beyond F.A.S.T. - Other Symptoms You Should Know

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the leg
  • Sudden confusion or trouble understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

In the past, doctors couldn't do much to help stroke victims. That's not true today.
Now stroke doesn't have to lead to disability or death. The key is to recognize a stroke and get to the hospital immediately. The clot-dissolving drug tPA (tissue plasminogen activator) can reduce long-term disability if it's given within three hours after an ischemic stroke starts. (Ischemic strokes are caused by clots and are by far the most common type of stroke.)

Unfortunately, tPA isn't used as often as it could be because many people don't seek care quickly. Don't you make that mistake. If you or someone near you has the warning signs of a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Has your local hospital set up the appropriate steps for treating stroke as an emergency? One way to find out is by checking the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Hospital Organization's (JCAHO) list of certified primary stroke centers. If your local hospital isn't currently on this list, they still may be prepared to treat stroke. Contact the emergency room administrator and ask if the hospital has acute stroke protocols that include guidelines for the use of tPA. Knowing which facilities are equipped to treat stroke can save valuable time.