Harvard Health Letter

Do you know the symptoms of a stroke?

Think F.A.S.T. and check the face, arms, speech, and time.

Every second counts when it comes to getting treatment for a stroke, the interruption of blood flow to the brain that occurs when a blood vessel is blocked or ruptures. "From the time symptoms begin, we have only three—or in rarer cases, four-and-a-half—hours to give someone a clot-busting drug that can restore blood flow and keep brain cells from dying," says Dr. Natalia Rost, director of acute stroke services at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

To help you remember stroke symptoms, think F.A.S.T.

F

ACE

Can you smile? Does one side of your face droop?

A

RMS

Can you raise both arms?

PEECH

Is your speech slurred? Can you repeat a simple phrase?

T

IME

Time is critical when treating stroke, so call 911 immediately.

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