What Caregivers Need to Know About Stroke: Recognize Symptoms and Act FAST 

By Thomas H. and Nurse Kim 

If you are a caregiver, it’s important to understand stroke and be able to recognize symptoms. Stroke kills about 130,000 Americans each year, and it is the cause of 1 in 20 deaths. May is stroke awareness month, so there is no better time to learn about stroke, its telltale symptoms, and what actions you should take if you recognize them in someone you care for. First some facts:  

  • In the U.S. someone dies from stroke every 4 minutes.  
  • There are 800,000 strokes annually. 
  • 1 of every 6 people will suffer a stroke in their lifetime. 
  • Stroke is a leading cause of serious long-term disability. 


What is a stroke?

A stroke happens when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off.  Brain cells are deprived of oxygen and begin to die.  A stroke can cause you to permanently lose speech, movement and memory.   


Stroke Signs and Symptoms: 

Recognizing a stroke early can save a life and may also reduce long-term disability. Emergency treatment of stroke is most successful in the early minutes and hours after symptoms begin, so early recognition is key. 


Stroke Signs and Symptoms: 

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


Think F-A-S-T! 

Healthcare professionals often say to “Think FAST” when they talk about stroke. Remembering the letters F, A, S, T, and what they stand for will help you recognize the most common stroke symptoms and what to do if one or more is present.  


F-A-S-T Stands for: 

F – Face drooping. Is one side of the person’s face drooping or numb? When he or she smiles, is the smile uneven? 
A – Arm weakness. Is the person experiencing weakness or numbness in one arm? Have the person raise both arms. Does one of the arms drift downward? 
S – Speech difficulty. Is the person’s speech suddenly slurred or hard to understand? Is he or she unable to speak? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Can he or she repeat it back? 
T – Time to call 9-1-1. If any of these symptoms are present, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Check the time so you can report when the symptoms began. 


If someone you care for has a family history of stroke or has a condition like high blood pressure, diabetes, or overweight, encourage them to visit their doctor. The doctor will determine if they are at risk for stroke. Also, the doctor will speak with them about healthy lifestyle choices that can reduce stroke risk and improve overall health and well-being. 

For more information about stroke, visit the American Stroke Association at www.stroke.org 

JEVS Care at Home provides award-winning home care that enables adults with illness or disability to live fully and independently at home. For more information about our services and how we are different from other providers, contact us today. 

Posted in Blog JEVS Care at HomeTagged