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Lately, I’ve heard a lot about stroke and stroke prevention. Can you tell me what the signs of a stroke are and what the best ways are to lessen the severity of disability if a stroke happens?

— Tom, Gooding

Answered by Dr. Cheri Wiggins, St. Luke’s Clinic, Neurology:

The best way to remember the signs of stroke is the following acronym, FAST.

F is for facial droop (one side of the face is weaker than the other).

A is for arms (one arm is weaker than the other).

S is for speech (is slurred or different than normal).

T reminds people that time is of the essence — call 911 immediately.

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Most people now know that heart attacks are medical emergencies, and the sooner one gets to an emergency department the better. Along the same lines, strokes can be thought of as “brain attacks.” The best thing you can do to minimize the severity of a stroke is to get to the hospital as quickly as possible. There are some treatments that can be given in the hospital that can help decrease the severity of disability after a stroke.

In short, if someone notices a change in strength, sensation, vision, or speech (particularly on one side of the body), they should call 911 immediately.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Do not stop or delay seeking treatment because of something you read in this article. Further, the views or opinions expressed in this article are for informational purposes only and do not necessarily represent those of St. Luke’s. Reliance on any information provided by St. Luke’s, St. Luke’s employees or others supplying information for the column at the invitation of St. Luke’s is solely at your own risk.


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