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Do You Know the Warning Signs of Stroke? Act F.A.S.T.

If you or a loved one were having a stroke, would you recognize what was happening?

According to the American Heart Association, stroke is a leading cause of death in the United States, affecting nearly 800,000 people a year and killing nearly 130,000. When a stroke happens, time is of the essence. This means people need to be able to recognize the warning signs and take action. According to the Centers for Disease Control:

Patients who arrive at the emergency room within 3 hours of their first symptoms often have less disability 3 months after a stroke than those who received delayed care.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and the American Heart Association and American Stroke Association are helping people recognize and remember stroke warning signs with this easy acronym: F.A.S.T. (watch their video here).

F.A.S.T. stands for:

  • Face drooping—Can the person smile normally, or does one side of the face droop?
  • Arm weakness—When the person raises both arms, does one drift downward?
  • Speech difficulty—Can the person speak normally, or is speech slurred?
  • Time to call 911—If you see or experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

A person does not have to be experiencing all these symptoms to be having a stroke. Any one symptom is enough to call 911 immediately. The faster treatment can be started, the better.

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 with medical screening and healthy lifestyle choices. But when you see any of these stroke warning signs, remember that minutes count. Know the signs and act F.A.S.T.!

The neurosurgeons here at Columbia University Medical Center/NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital have many decades of experience treating patients with strokes and stroke-related disorders. Through the years, they have saved many lives and are proud to be a part of an institution with advanced certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center.

Learn about the Columbia doctors who treat strokes and stroke-related disorders at their bio pages below:

Dr. Robert A. Solomon
Dr. E. Sander Connolly
Dr. Sean D. Lavine
Dr. Philip M. Meyers
Dr. Grace Mandigo

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