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Stroke Awareness

What is stroke?
A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery (a blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body) or a blood vessel (a tube through which the blood moves through the body) breaks, interrupting blood flow to an area of the brain. When either of these things happen, brain cells begin to die and brain damage occurs.

A stroke is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. Strokes are the number 5 cause of death in the United States. Ischemic strokes are the most common type, consisting about 87% of stroke cases. An Ischemic stroke occurs from the growth of fatty deposits in vessel walls called atherosclerosis. Atherosclerosis can create threatening blood clots which lead to stroke.

Strokes are sudden and the abbreviation F.A.S.T. will help you remember the signs and symptoms of stroke. When faced with stroke symptoms, always remember to act F.A.S.T.

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?
  • Arm Weakness – Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech Difficulty – Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get the person to the hospital immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared. —American Stroke Association

Stay Aware of Other Symptoms
Following the F.A.S.T. plan can save a life, but there are other threatening symptoms that may not seem as dangerous on the surface. Symptoms that appear suddenly may indicate signs of a stroke. These include:

  • Numbness or weakness of arms or legs (especially on one side of the body)
  • Sudden confusion, difficulty speaking or understanding sentences
  • Vision trouble
  • Loss of balance  
  • Severe headache 

If someone shows any of these symptoms, immediately call 9-1-1 or emergency medical services. 


Made possible with funding through the Texas Healthy Communities Program.

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