Know the Warning Signs and Get Help Fast
Every 40 seconds, someone in the U.S. has a stroke. And, every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke. The sooner you receive treatment, the better your chance of survival. Knowing the warning signs of a stroke can be life-saving.
A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain becomes blocked or bursts. There are two different types of stroke: ischemic and hemorrhagic. About 87% of strokes are ischemic strokes. They occur when a blood clot blocks blood flow to the brain. A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and bleeds into or around the brain. The blood builds up, and creates swelling and pressure.
Both types of stroke can deprive brain cells of oxygen. This can lead to permanent loss of speech, movement or memory. But, receiving prompt medical treatment may reduce the risk of these effects.
There is an easy acronym to help you spot the signs of a stroke: B.E. F.A.S.T.*
*BE FAST was developed by Intermountain Healthcare, as an adaptation of the FAST model implemented by the American Stroke Association. Reproduced with permission from Intermountain Healthcare. © 2011 Intermountain Healthcare. All rights reserved.
A stroke is a medical emergency. Symptoms come on suddenly, and every minute counts. The longer someone having a stroke waits to get treatment, the higher the chance of permanent damage or even death. Know what signs to look for:
B: Balance. Do they have loss of balance or are they dizzy? Are they walking differently?
E: Eyes. Can they see out of both eyes OK? Ask them if they have vision loss, or blurry or double vision.
F: Face. Does one side of their face look uneven or like it is drooping? Ask them if their face feels numb. Tell them to smile and check if their smile is uneven.
A: Arm. Does one of their arms feel numb? Ask them to raise both arms and see if one arm drifts downward.
S: Speech. Is their speech hard to understand? Are they confused? Are they having trouble understanding you?
T: Time to call 911. If someone is showing any of these signs, call 911 right away. Note the time their first symptoms appeared, and share that information with first responders.
If you or a loved one has recently had a stroke, Northwestern Medicine offers Comprehensive Stroke Centers that can help.