Know the Warning Signs of a "Brain Attack"

Stroke symptoms often come on very suddenly but sometimes occur over several minutes. In any case, seek immediate medical attention if you experience or observe any one of the following warning signs.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

Here is the simple test for stroke. Memorize it and commit to Act F.A.S.T.:

  • F = FACE Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • A = ARM Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S = SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T = TIME If you observe or experience any of these signs, remember that time is brain. Don't wait; call 911.

Over the past decade, there has been a national effort to create more of a sense of urgency about responding to strokes. Calling this often debilitating condition a "brain attack" might well prompt people to act more quickly to signs of a stroke. As with a heart attack, when stroke victims receive treatment fast, more lives are saved and brain damage is significantly reduced.