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Signs of a Stroke


Julia Cuervo, MD, is an internal medicine specialist at Aspen Internal Medicine in Loveland, Colo. Her phone number is (970) 669-6660

Question: How will I know if I am having a stroke? Is it important to get care quickly?

Answer: Time is critical when you believe you or a loved one may be experiencing a stroke. It's important to keep this handy reminder in mind:

  • F – Face. Observe the person’s face to see whether it looks uneven. Ask the person to smile.
  • A – Arm. Does one of the person’s arms drift down? Ask that person to raise both of his or her arms.
  • S— Speech. Does the person’s speech sound different? Ask him or her to repeat a simple phrase such as “the grass is green.”
  • T— Time. Immediate care for a person who is having a stroke is critical. If you notice these symptoms, call 911.

Stroke happens when blood flow to a part of the brain is interrupted. This can happen because of a blockage or the rupture of a blood vessel. After a few seconds without blood flow the brain begins to lose oxygen and parts of the brain begin to die, causing disability.
Immediate treatment for a stroke can save a life and reduce damage to the brain leading to possible disability.

People who are having stroke symptoms like the ones listed above need to get to a hospital as fast as possible. The first three hours are extremely important as the most effective treatments can be administered within this time frame. Remember to think FAST when it comes to stroke.

Reviewed December 2010

Page Last Modified: 12/22/2010
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