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How to detect a stroke in others

Act F.A.S.T. when you suspect a stroke

If you or a loved one are experiencing signs of a stroke, call:


Every minute counts for stroke patients and acting F.A.S.T. can lead patients to the stroke treatments they desperately need. The most effective stroke treatments are only available if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within the first three hours of the first symptom. Actually, many Americans are not aware that stroke patients may not be eligible for stroke treatments if they arrive at the hospital after the three-hour window.

If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and complete this simple 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 their speech slurred or strange?

T – TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Learn more about emergency treatment for stroke at Novant Health

NOTE THE TIME WHEN ANY SYMPTOMS FIRST APPEAR. If given within three hours of the first symptoms, there is an FDA-approved clot-buster medication that may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke. Other forms of emergency stroke treatments include:

Intra-arterial thrombolytic administration: A tiny catheter is inserted through a small incision in the groin and threaded into the brain to the site of the clot – where clot-dissolving drugs are delivered. If performed within three hours after a stroke, this procedure has a high success rate, with 40 percent of stroke patients having few or no disabilities following treatment.

Treatments to control or reduce brain swelling: Special types of intravenous (IV) fluids are often used to help reduce or control brain swelling, especially after a hemorrhagic stroke (a stroke caused by bleeding in the brain).

Craniotomy: A type of brain surgery for critically-ill stroke patients. It is performed to remove blood clots and treat brain swelling related to strokes.

Learn as many stroke symptoms as possible so you can recognize stroke as F.A.S.T. as possible.