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Knowing the warning signs of a stroke can reduce death and disability

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Bates County, University of Missouri Extension


According to the American Stroke Association, a stroke occurs every 40 seconds in the United States. Stroke is the number five cause of death, and is also a leading cause of long-term disability. Immediate treatment can help decrease the chance for death and disability. For immediate treatment to occur, people must know the warning signs of a stroke.


Think F.A.S.T. to recognize and respond to the signs of a stroke:


  • Face drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?
  • Arm weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 911 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you’ll know when the first symptoms appeared (this can make a difference in the kind of treatment given).


Even if only one symptom is present out of all of the categories listed above, call 911 and go to the emergency room. Experiencing only one symptom for just a short period of time can be a sign of a stroke, so immediate medical attention is needed even if symptoms go away. The quicker the treatment, the better chance for recovery.




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Last update: Tuesday, December 06, 2016