in: Health, Health & Fitness

• Last updated: June 4, 2024

How to Instantly Recognize a Stroke

Every year in the United States alone, nearly a million people have a stroke. Strokes can strike at any age, but the chances of suffering a stroke increase as you get older. The most common age range for strokes is the 70s.

A stroke occurs when blood supply to part of the brain is blocked or obstructed. The blockage causes brain cells to die. On average, 1.9 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated. That’s why being able to recognize a stroke in someone is such a vital skill to have. The sooner you recognize that someone is having a stroke, the sooner you can get that person treated and potentially save their life and reduce the chances of long-term disability. 

To recognize a stroke, just remember the acronym: BE FAST

B: Does the person have a sudden loss of balance?
E: Does the person have a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
F: Is one side of the face drooping? Ask the person to smile to verify.
A: Does one arm feel weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms to see if one arm drifts downward.
S: Is the person’s speech slurred? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase to verify if speech is slurred or strange.
T: Time to call 911 and get this person to the hospital if any of these symptoms are present.
Illustration by Ted Slampyak

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