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Trusted Health Information from the National Institutes of Health


FAST: How to spot a stroke and know when to call 911

Acting fast and understanding telltale symptoms are key to improving stroke survival and outcomes.

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), the signs of a stroke include numbness, tingling, and slurred speech as well as confusion, severe headache, and trouble walking or seeing.

"Time is very important when dealing with the brain and strokes," says Clinton B. Wright, M.D., M.S., of NINDS. "The longer you wait to get treatment, the more brain tissue is at risk."

Dr. Wright recommends memorizing the FAST symptoms, like these provided by the American Stroke Association.

Is one side of the face numb or does it droop? Is one arm weak or numb? Does one arm drift downward? Is speech slurred? Is the person hard to understand or unable to speak? If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if symptoms go away, call 911 and go to the hospital immediately.

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