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Wellness@Work : How to spot the signs of a stroke 

How to spot the signs of a stroke 

How to spot the signs of a stroke 

By Shelia Ross, D.N.P.
Director, USA Health Stroke Programs

Stroke symptoms often appear suddenly. When someone is having a stroke, early treatment is key to improving the chances of survival and preventing long-term disability.    

A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is suddenly interrupted. An ischemic stroke is from a clot blocking the vessel.  A hemorrhagic stroke is where there is a break in a vessel, releasing blood into brain tissue.  Many strokes can be prevented with a healthy diet, exercise, weight management, blood pressure and diabetes control and monitoring, smoking cessation, and regular check-ups.    

Yet, strokes continue to be the leading cause of disability in the United States, where someone has a stroke every 40 seconds. That’s why it’s important to recognize the early warning signs and take steps to get medical attention as soon as possible.

To spot the signs of a stroke, remember the acronym BE FAST:   

  • B – Balance problems. Notice the person’s balance or coordination. Ask if they feel dizzy.   
  • E – Eyesight issues. Ask the person whether they have blurry vision, are seeing double, or have other eyesight problems such as blind spots.   
  • F Face drooping.  Ask the person to smile. Check if one side of their face droops.   
  • A Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise both arms. See if one arm drifts downward.   
  • S Speech difficulties. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Check for slurred speech or difficulty speaking.   
  • T Time to call emergency medical services (EMS). 

If you notice any of these signs, call EMS at 911 immediately. Time is crucial in treating a stroke.  Document the time of onset or the last time this person was at their normal state.   

Anything out of the ordinary, even if you or someone else isn’t having a stroke, can be a sign to seek care. Pay attention to these signs, and don’t delay. The sooner you get care, the better the outcome.  

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