Think FAST to Recognize Stroke

Someone has a stroke every 40 seconds in the United States. Stroke is a major cause of disability and it is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. While there are things that you can do to decrease your risk of stroke, it’s very important to know how to recognize a stroke. Recognizing stroke signs and symptoms can help save a life. Remembering the acronym FAST helps you recognize a stroke, and demonstrates the importance of seeking treatment as quickly as possible.

What does FAST stand for?

FAST is a mnemonic device that can help you remember the key signs of stroke. It also reminds you to act quickly. Stroke is very serious and if not treated correctly or quickly enough, it can cause death or permanent disability.

So what does FAST stand for?

  • Face: Sudden numbness in the face – especially on one side – and difficulty seeing out of one or both eyes are common signs of stroke. Ask the person to smile, and see if one side of his or her face droops.
  • Arms: Look for numbness and loss of control in the arms or legs – again, especially on one side of the body. Difficulty walking, loss of balance, and loss of coordination are all common signs of stroke. Have the person raise both arms, and look to see if one arm lowers.
  • Speech: Watch for sudden confusion, difficulty speaking, and trouble understanding. Listen for strange or slurred speech.
  • Time: Call 911 immediately if you notice any of these signs. Make a note of the time that you first notice the signs or symptoms of stroke.

Preventing stroke

Some people are at a higher risk of having a stroke than others. Some factors affecting stroke risk include lifestyle, health conditions, and family history.

Understanding your risk for stroke can help you take the appropriate steps to prevent stroke. Talk to your primary care physician to learn what you can do to lower your risk for stroke.