If you’re with someone and you notice a sudden change in appearance or behavior, make sure it’s not a stroke. Ask them to do these three simple things:
- Smile - Is it the smile you know and love? Or is one corner of the mouth drooping down?
- Close your eyes and raise your arms - Are the arms held high together, or is one drifting back down to the side?
- Repeat a simple phrase - Why not make it funny? If the person is fine, you can laugh about it later. Try “If at first you don't succeed, skydiving is not for you.” Listen for slurred words and unusual sounding speech.
If you notice a droopy, lopsided smile, one arm held lower than the other or drifting down on its own, or slurred speech without reasonable explanations, call 911 immediately and tell them that you’re with someone who needs to get to a stroke treatment center as quickly as possible.
The American Stroke Association developed another easy-to-remember way to spot a stroke. It's called F.A.S.T. Here's how it helps you identify a stroke in yourself or another person. :
F – Face drooping. Is one side of the person’s face drooping or numb? When he or she smiles, is the smile uneven?
A – Arm weakness. Is the person experiencing weakness or numbness in one arm? Have the person raise both arms. Does one of the arms drift downward?
S – Speech difficulty. Is the person’s speech suddenly slurred or hard to understand? Is he or she unable to speak? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she repeat it back?
T – Time to call 9-1-1. If any of these symptoms are present, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Check the time so you can report when the symptoms began.
What Is a Stroke? Why Is a Stroke So Serious?
A stroke is an interruption of the blood flow to the brain. When the blood supply to a part of the brain is restricted or cut off, the affected brain cells can die. That’s why it’s so important to be treated for stroke as soon as possible. Your brain is involved in everything you do - walking, talking, stopping to smell the roses - whatever you enjoy doing. If the part of the brain involved in those activities is damaged by the stroke, you might not be able to do those things anymore. So don’t wait. Take care of your brain - Call 911.
Learn More About Stroke
The doctors and nurses who created this website have posted several more articles to help you understand what causes a stroke, why it is vitally important to seem medical attention immediately if stroke symptoms start and the treatments available for stroke. Click here to visit the SecondsCount Stroke Information Center.