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Act F.A.S.T. When it Comes to Stroke

Dr. Larry Antonucci's Blog Posts


May 24, 2023

Every 40 seconds, someone in America has a stroke, which is the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of long-term disability. When it comes to stroke, it is vital to act F.A.S.T. to save lives – F.A.S.T. is an easy test to tell if someone may be having a stroke; here’s how:

  • 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 their speech slurred or strange?
  • T – Time: If you see any of these signs, call 911 right away.

Acting F.A.S.T. is necessary because stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms, so it is important to note the time when symptoms first appear. Another valuable tip to note is to call an ambulance instead of driving to the hospital – this allows medical personnel to being lifesaving treatment on the way to the emergency department.

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel bringing blood to the brain gets blocked or ruptures. When brain cells are deprived of oxygen-rich blood, they cannot function and begin to die.

There are different types of stroke, including ischemic and hemorrhagic. Most strokes are ischemic, which occurs when blood clots or other particles block the blood vessels to the brain. Hemorrhagic strokes, which are less common, happen when an artery in the brain leaks or bursts. Transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) are often called “warning strokes.” TIAs hint at a future stroke, it produces symptoms like a major stroke but is shorter in duration. The Centers for Disease Control Prevention advises that there is no way to know in the beginning whether symptoms are from a TIA or a major type of stroke, so you should call 911 right away.

Lee Health is ready and well-equipped to treat strokes. Our health system is home to two Primary Stroke Centers (Cape Coral Hospital and Lee Memorial Hospital) and a Comprehensive Stroke Center (Gulf Coast Medical Center). These designations mean that our hospitals demonstrate a higher standard of clinical excellence and use a framework and consistent approach to care to deliver improved patient outcomes. There is more information about strokes, including Lee Health’s quality and best practices, treatment and care, rehabilitation options and more at, and search ‘stroke.’

I encourage anyone reading this column to talk to their healthcare team about their risk factors for stroke and remember F.A.S.T. so you can quickly recognize and act if you or someone you are with experiences the signs and symptoms of a stroke.

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