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Recognizing a stroke

Steps to tell a stroke

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Strokes are the #5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. Treatments are available, but you need to act FAST. Every minute counts and rapid treatment can lessen the brain damage that strokes can cause.  It is very important to call 911 at the first sign of a possible stroke. 

What are the signs of stroke in men and women?

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within 3 hours of the first symptoms. Stroke patients may not be eligible for these if they don’t arrive at the hospital in time.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do the following test:

F—Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

A—Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

S—Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

Note the time when any symptoms first appear or the last time the person was seen normal, if the initial symptoms were not witnessed. This information helps health care providers determine the best treatment for each person.

Do not drive to the hospital or let someone else drive you. Call 9-1-1 for an ambulance so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

For more information, see the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention video at CDC Stroke Video.

(Information courtesy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC.gov)

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