A stroke is one of those scary conditions that require immediate attention. Occurring when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, the stroke is ranked by the American Stroke Association as the fifth major cause of death in the U.S. and one of the leading causes of serious brain damage and disability. It’s essential to be able to recognize the symptoms of a stroke, both in yourself and in others. Luckily, the F.A.S.T test lets you check for the stroke’s telltale indicators, allowing you to detect one as quickly as possible and drastically reduce the chances of brain damage, or even death. You can prevent the worst case scenario, simply by remembering this helpful acronym.
F: Face drooping
Notice any numbness or drooping on one side of the face. Is your smile lopsided? If so, you might be exhibiting the first sign of a stroke.
A: Arm weakness
Try and raise both arms. Ask yourself: is one side weaker than the other? Do you feel numbness on one side? If one arm is floating downwards, despite your efforts to keep it level, you might be exhibiting the second symptom of a stroke.
S: Speech difficulty
Try to recite a short phrase, and take note of any slurring. Are you garbling or mispronouncing any words? Slurring and strange speech is another warning sign of a stroke.
T: Time to call 911
If you said “yes” to any, or all, of the previous symptoms, you should call the police immediately. Take note of the time when reporting the stroke, as you will be asked when the first symptom occurred.
Remember, when having a stroke, every minute matters. Be calm; be effective; and be F.A.S.T: you could be saving your own, or someone else’s, life.