A stroke is a serious medical event caused by a lack of blood flow to the brain, resulting in neuron death and symptoms of cognitive impairment. However, the symptoms of a stroke can be tough to spot, according to Victor Zach, MD, a neurologist and stroke specialist who is an independent member of the HonorHealth medical staff.
“Some people may not even realize they’re experiencing a stroke because during the event, the stroke victim's brain isn't functioning normally,” explains Dr. Zach. “They may even downplay their symptoms when questioned by loved ones. Because a stroke is so difficult for a victim to describe in the moment, it’s crucial for everyone to be educated about how to recognize signs of a stroke and to help people experiencing one.”
- F — Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
- A — Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
- S — Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is the speech slurred or strange?
- T — Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away.
What to do when you suspect a stroke
If you see these signs of a stroke but the person insists that he or she is feeling fine, don’t believe what you’re hearing. Call 911 so that the person receives medical attention on the way to the hospital. The faster a friend or relative recognizes the signs of a stroke and calls an ambulance, the better the chance the person has of not suffering permanent damage.
Strokes are serious medical emergencies, but with a good understanding of how to identify the signs, you can take action right away. Learn more about stroke symptoms and rehabilitation here.