How to detect early signs of stroke

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Stroke is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States, but many people do have strokes and survive. It depends on the severity of the stroke and how long it goes undetected.

Nearly 400 stroke survivors, family members, and healthcare providers gathered for a forum Wednesday at the MassMutual Center. They learned how to detect early signs of stroke, what to do if they had those symptoms, and how to recover from a stroke.

Some survivors come every year to the forum to be with others who have shared experiences.

Cleveland Burton, a stroke survivor, said, “It’s almost like a homecoming so this is a great group and we all realize that we are blessed and every stroke is different but has threads of similarity because they’re all the same in one way or another.”

A stroke is when a blood vessel bursts in the brain or gets clogged. The acronym, “F.A.S.T.,” is one way to remember signs of stroke.

“F.A.S.T.” stands for:

  • Face Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
  • 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, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand when asked to repeat a simple sentence?
  • Time to call 911 – If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately. Time lost is brain lost.
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