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.



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



Can you raise both arms?


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



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

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