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Your Health

FAST: the warning signs of a stroke

FAST is the acronym for possible signs of a stroke:

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 observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately. If administered within three hours of the first symptom appearing, clot-buster medications may reduce long-term disability for the most common type of stroke.

If the attack is a TIA – transient ischemic attack – and symptoms disappear after a short period, time is still critical. If the cause of the TIA can be determined, doctors may be able to treat the cause and prevent a subsequent TIA or a full-blown stroke.

For more on ways to prevent strokes, view 'Need for speed' in diagnosing TIAs, and Risk factors for stroke.