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Act F.A.S.T. at Signs of a Stroke

Health Hub
Author name: Lee Health

FAST Stroke Graphic

Every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke. And a stroke can happen to anyone at any time. It’s a leading cause of death and serious disability. But acting F.A.S.T can save lives—maybe even yours.

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 the speech slurred or strange?

T—Time: If you see any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away.

When you act F.A.S.T. as soon as you see one or more signs of stroke in someone, you not only may save a life but also limit the long-term effects often associated with strokes, such as disability, notes neurology specialist Ryan Moorhouse, DO, a physician with Lee Physician Group Neurology.

“Acting F.A.S.T. can help stroke patients get the treatments they desperately need. The stroke treatments that work best are available only if the stroke is recognized and diagnosed within three hours of the first symptoms,” Dr. Moorhouse says.

Signs of Stroke in Men and Women

  • Sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or difficulty understanding speech.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance, or lack of coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.
  • Call 9-1-1 right away if you or someone else has any of these symptoms.

"A stroke occurs when blood flow in the brain becomes obstructed. When brain cells become deprived of oxygen-rich blood, they begin to die and lose their functions,” Dr. Moorhouse explains. “The part of the brain affected by a stroke determines the secondary effects that occur. For example, if a stroke affects the part of the brain that regulates sensation, the person may experience an impaired sensation like numbness."

F.A.S.T. Tips

Dr. Moorhouse says it’s important that you note the time when the symptoms first appear. This information can assist healthcare providers determine the best treatment for each person. Also, call an ambulance instead of driving yourself (if you’re seeing stroke symptoms in yourself) or the possible stroke victim to the hospital so that medical personnel can begin life-saving treatment on the way to the emergency room.

F.A.S.T. Facts:

Stroke can happen to anyone at any age, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

  • Up to 80% of strokes are preventable through healthy lifestyle changes and working with your health care team to control health conditions that raise your risk for stroke.
  • Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of severe disability.
  • On average, one person dies from stroke every 4 minutes.
  • More than 795,000 people have a stroke each year in the U.S.
  • Stroke kills almost 130,000 of the 800,000 Americans who die of cardiovascular disease each year—that’s 1 out of every 19 deaths from all causes.

Award-Winning Hospitals for Stroke Care

Because every second matters when treating stroke, getting the best care possible close to home remains a priority of Lee Health and Lee Health Physician Group.

In 2020, the American Heart Association, American Stroke Association recognized these Lee Health adult acute care hospitals for comprehensive stroke treatment and care.

  • Cape Coral Hospital
  • Gulf Coast Medical Center
  • Lee Memorial Hospital 
  • HealthPark Medical Center

“Studies show that patients who are taught how to manage their risk factors while still in the hospital reduce their risk of a second stroke,” says Dr. Michael Horowitz, Lee Health medical director for neuroscience and stroke. “Our aim is to prevent patients from having another stroke because it drastically increases the risk of death and other long-lasting health impacts.”

Gulf Coast is also the only designated "comprehensive stroke center" in Lee County, a state designation that indicates it meets treatment and staffing levels to ensure high levels of stroke care.

Offering 24/7 neurointerventional coverage with a full team of specialists, support staff, a dedicated neuroscience intensive care unit for stroke patients and a dedicated neurointerventional suite equipped with state-of-the-art biplane angiography systems, Gulf Coast Medical Center provides lifesaving care around-the-clock.

The hospital was recently awarded the highest national marks for safe care by The Leapfrog Group. Along with Lee Health’s three other adult acute care hospitals, Gulf Coast Medical Center earned an ‘A’ grade for the fourth straight report card.