Recognizing a Stroke F.A.S.T

The Signs & Symptoms of an Ischemic Stroke

A stroke is one of the most devastating circulatory system attacks a person can experience. The most well-known type of stroke is known as an ischemic stroke—it blocks the blood vessels bringing oxygen to the brain. As a result, brain tissue begins dying from the lack of oxygen, which causes the most obvious stroke symptoms.

Because symptoms are the result of dying brain tissue, it is crucial to act quickly when you recognize the signs of a stroke. A few minutes’ difference can mean the difference between lifelong disability and full recovery. Fortunately, there is an easy acronym for recognizing stroke symptoms: F.A.S.T. (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech Difficulty, and Time to call 911).

Face Drooping

If you have a noticeably uneven smile, experience facial numbness, and/or have a headache, you might be experiencing stroke. Facial drooping in particular is the result of lost nerve control, so it is more clear sign of stroke.

Arm Weakness

If your arm suddenly goes numb, that also could mean half of your brain is dying from lack of oxygen. Try to keep both arms lifted—if you are unable to maintain height with one of your arms, it is a sign that you are likely experiencing a stroke.

Speech Difficulty

If you have sudden trouble speaking, either slurring or mixing up your words, that is also a sign of the brain lacking oxygen. If you also experience confusion, trouble understanding, or a “cloudy” mind, that’s also a sign of stroke. If someone else is experiencing these symptoms, ask them to repeat a simple sentence. If they are incapable, it is likely a stroke.

Time to Call 911

Here is an important step: do not delay calling an ambulance. Do not attempt to drive yourself or a loved one to the hospital—EMTs on the ambulance can provide crucial treatment en route to the hospital. Call no matter what, even if symptoms go away. Record the time that the stroke occurred so that medical professionals know the timeframe of the stroke.

All of these signs in conjunction are a sure sign of stroke. Quick treatment can also prevent a second stroke. Even if you are unsure, calling 911 is the safest call you could make. With stroke, the stakes involved with even a minor delay can result in permanent disability, including paralysis and loss of speech. Remember, when a stroke occurs, you have to act F.A.S.T.!

This article contains general information about medical conditions and treatments. The information is not advice and should not be treated as such. The information is not intended to replace the advice or diagnosis of a physician.

If you have any specific questions about any medical matter you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider.