Health and Wellness: Signs of stroke

Ann Cochran - Dallas County Health Department

The acronym F.A.S.T. could help you identify that someone is having a stroke. A stroke is sometimes called a brain attack, and like a heart attack, immediate medical attention will increase the chances for survival and recovery. Both men and women have strokes.  If you see someone with the signs described below, call 9-1-1.

During a stroke, there is a disruption in blood flow to the brain. The person may experience sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, leg or whole side of the body. Many stroke victims become confused and have difficulty speaking. Severe headache is common. The person may have sudden dizziness and lack of coordination.

Think of acting F.A.S.T., which stands for Face, Arms, Speech and Time:

  • Face – Ask the person to smile; one side of the mouth may droop.
  • Arms – Ask them to raise both arms; one may sink down.
  • Speech – Ask them to repeat a simple phrase; do they slur or have trouble remembering a few words?
  • Time – Make a note of what time these signs appeared and report this to the 9-1-1 operator.

Act fast. An ambulance crew can begin treatment on the way to the hospital, so don’t drive them to the hospital yourself.