If you, or someone you know, were having a stroke—how would you know? Do you know the signs or symptoms? One way to be sure is by remembering four letters that make up a stroke symptoms acronym.
There are two types of strokes that are most common.
- Ischemic Stroke: The most common type of stroke is ischemic stroke. They account for about 88 percent of all strokes. This occurs when blood flow to the brain is blocked by a clot (fatty deposit).
- Hemorrhagic Stroke: The second-most common type of stroke is a Hemorrhagic Stroke. It accounts for 13 percent of all strokes and occurs when a weakened blood vessel ruptures and causes bleeding in the brain.
Depending on the type of stroke, damage to the brain cells is caused by either lack of oxygen or excess pressure on the brain cells caused by bleeding. Immediate treatment may prevent the long-term effects of a stroke and even prevent death. Some of the long-term effects could include:
- Weak arm
- Garbled Speech
- Blurred Vision
Time is critical when someone is having a stroke. They say “time is brain.” The longer the stroke persists, the more damage it will do to the brain. So, a good way to remind yourself if you think someone is showing signs is by keeping a stroke acronym in mind.
Stroke Symptoms Acronym: F.A.S.T.
To help you recognize the signs there is a stroke symptoms acronym you can use to help you remember. All you have to do is to think F.AS.T.
Face—a drooping face. Ask the person to smile. If one side of their face does not respond, call for help.
- Facial paralysis occurs during a stroke when nerves that control the muscles in the face are damaged in the brain.
Arm—if one arm drifts downward, that’s the sign of a stroke. Ask the person to raise both arms and look to see if they can do it. If not, call for help.
- Stroke often causes paralysis or weakness of one or more of the muscles in your arm or shoulder. Your muscles might also feel very tight instead of weak.
Speech—Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. If their speech slurred or strange, call for help.
- Slurred speech is a common symptom of stroke due to weakness of the muscles that are crucial for speech production on one side of the face.
Time—don’t waste time, call 911 immediately. Time is brain.
- Your brain is the most sensitive part of your body. It is also the most susceptible to injury when blood supply is cut off. Your brain is critically dependent on blood flow for the oxygen and glucose (sugar) that it needs. When blood flow stops, 2 million brain cells die per minute.
The American Heart Association says there are additional symptoms that may signal a stroke, such as:
- Sudden confusion
- Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.
- Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
- Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
- Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
The good news is that many strokes are preventable. Proper medical screening and healthy lifestyle choices will decrease your risk significantly. But when you see any of these stroke warning signs, remember the stroke symptoms acronym and act F.A.S.T.!
If you think you or someone you love is experiencing stroke symptoms, get to your nearest emergency room. If you’d like to learn more about stroke, or some of the signs and symptoms of cardiovascular disease, download our free guide: “The Heart Disease Facts That Can Change Your Life.”