Sturdy Memorial Hospital, a Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) designated primary stroke service provider, urges the public to learn the signs and symptoms of stroke and to call 9-1-1 immediately if they think someone is having a stroke. Alerting 9-1-1 operators, first responders, and emergency department personnel that stroke symptoms are present is vital as it could make the difference between life and death.
So act F.A.S.T. if you think someone may be having a stroke:
Face. Ask the person to smile. A stroke can cause one side of the face to droop. Abrupt dimming of vision or a sudden, severe headache without a known cause are also warning signs.
Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms. If one arm drifts downward, that could signal a stroke, which can trigger weakness, numbness, or paralysis of an arm or leg, particularly on one side of the body.
Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Stroke victims may slur their words, have trouble speaking or understanding speech, or not be able to talk at all.
Time. If you observe any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately. Stroke is a life-or-death emergency in which every minute counts. Brain cells are dying.
To learn more about the risk factors and the signs and symptoms of stroke, visit the National Stroke Association website at www.stroke.org. You can also speak with your primary care physician.