The acronym F-A-S-T can help you identify the signs of a stroke and take immediate action.
Stroke is a leading cause of disability and death in the United States.
About 600,000 new strokes are reported each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Treatments are available that can reduce the damage of stroke. Getting treatment within 60 minutes of having a stroke can help to prevent permanent disability.
Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke can help save lives.
Because stroke injures the brain, people who are having a stroke may not be aware of it.
People suffering from stroke have the best chance of surviving if someone around them recognizes the signs and acts quickly by calling 9-1-1.
Common Signs of Stroke
The type and severity of stroke symptoms depend on the area of the brain that is affected.
Signs and symptoms of stroke in both men and women may include:
- Sudden numbness, weakness, or inability to move the face, arm, or leg (especially on one side of the body)
- Trouble speaking or understanding speech
- Trouble seeing in one or both eyes
- Dizziness, trouble walking, or loss of balance or coordination
- Sudden, severe headache (often described as “the worst headache of my life”)
- Trouble breathing
- Loss of consciousness
Learning this simple acronym can help you remember the signs and symptoms of stroke.
If you think that you or someone around you is having a stroke, call 9-1-1 immediately.
F. Face drooping: Ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven?
A. Arm weakness: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift downward?
S. Speech difficulty: Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like: “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T. Time to call 9-1-1 if someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away. Check the time so you’ll know when symptoms first started.
Stroke Symptoms in Women
Stroke is the third leading cause of death in women (and the fifth leading cause of death in men).
Each year stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer, according to the National Stroke Association.
The stroke symptoms women may experience can be different from those experienced by men. These include:
- Difficulty or shortness of breath
- Sudden behavioral changes
- Nausea or vomiting
Diagnosis of Stroke
Your doctor will diagnose stroke based on several factors, including symptoms, medical history, physical exam, and diagnostic tests.
The following brain and heart tests may be used to help diagnose stroke:
- Brain computed tomography (brain CT scan — uses X-rays to take pictures of the brain)
- Magnetic resonance imaging (brain MRI — uses magnets and radio waves to show changes in brain tissue)
- Carotid ultrasound or carotid angiography (shows insides of the arteries that supply blood to the brain)
- Electrocardiogram (EKG — a heart test to help detect heart problems that may have led to a stroke)
- Echocardiography (creates a picture of the heart to show how well it’s working)
Blood tests may also be used to help diagnose a stroke.