Signs of a Stroke: Acronym & Recognition

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

Do you know how to tell if a loved one is having a stroke? You might be a hero one day if you learn to recognize the simple signs of stroke. This lesson goes over them and tells you why they occur in general.

Signs of Emergency Conditions

Everyone is familiar with the stereotypical and famous image of someone having a heart attack. You're probably thinking of it right now. What do you see? Probably a man with slightly balding and graying hair. He's stumbling as he walks clutching his chest and his face is contorted in pain.

But what should you look out for when someone is having a stroke? What's the stereotypical image of that?

What is a Stroke?

Before we get to that, let's understand what a stroke actually is. This will help you understand why you see the signs related to one. A stroke, also called a cerebrovascular accident, is a condition where a section of brain cells is damaged and dies as a result of an impaired supply of oxygenated blood. That may occur because an artery supplying the brain with blood has been plugged up by something like a blood clot, or because an artery on top of or within the brain has burst open. Either way, brain cells die without oxygen.

Your brain cells are like micro-computers. They are responsible for communicating with one another and with the rest of the body. As they do so, they send signals to various parts of the body to do just about everything, from walking and talking, to smiling and moving your legs and arms. They do so in a very fast and coordinated fashion. Any kink in this system, and a person will either have great difficulty in accomplishing a once easy task or they'll be unable to perform the task at all.


Time is of the essence in ensuring someone who is having a stroke gets the help they need ASAP in order to prevent as much brain damage as possible. Thus, act F.A.S.T! To find out if someone is having a stroke, remember that acronym.

Follow along with these signs and symptoms of stroke.

F - Face. Look at the person's face. Is it droopy, especially more so on one side than on the other? If you can't tell at all or simply aren't sure, ask the person to smile or show their teeth. Is the smile uneven? An uneven smile and/or the drooping or numbing of one side of the face is a potential sign of stroke.

A - Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms as much as they can. Can you tell if they can't raise one arm as high as the other one? Does one arm seem to fall downward while the other one stays up? Is the person complaining that one arm is weak or numb? Any of these are possible signs of stroke.

S - Speech. Is the person talking? If not, ask them to say something. If they can't talk then that's a potential sign of stroke, but even if they can talk, pay attention to what they're saying and how they're saying it. Is their speech slurred, confusing, or difficult to understand? If they can't repeat a simple sentence like 'the grass is green' in a correct manner, that's a warning sign of a stroke.

T - Time. Time is of the essence. Time to call 911. If you see even a single sign or hear of a single symptom that was mentioned before, even if they disappear with time, immediately call 911 or get the person to the hospital right away if you are unable to call. Also, note the time when you first noticed any of the problems, this will be important for doctors to know.

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