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A Stroke Is an Emergency!

Published on Feb 06, 2018

There are not many things scarier than a stroke. Like a heart attack, a stroke can come on suddenly, with little or no advance warning. And like a heart attack, a stroke can cause serious and lasting damage, or it may be fatal, especially if you don't respond quickly. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and a leading cause of adult disability.

That's why it's very important to know the warning signs of stroke and if you see them, call 911 immediately. A quick response can mean the difference between life and death. Warning signs include sudden:

  • Numbness or weakness of the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body.
  • Confusion or trouble speaking.
  • Trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Severe headache with no known cause.


If you observe or suspect anyone to have at least one of those symptoms, act FAST. Here's a way to remember what to do—remember the letters F-A-S-T:

F for Face: Ask the person to smile. Is one side of the face drooping?
A for Arm: Can they raise both arms or is one arm weak?
S for Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Is their speech slurred or confused?
T for Time: Call 911 right away!

Don’t delay

A 2011 study found that African-Americans delay calling 911 after a stroke and instead call a relative or friend. This is alarming. African-Americans are twice as likely to experience a first stroke as Caucasians. They are also twice as likely to die from stroke as Caucasians.

Another study found that even though people recognized a friend or family member might be having a stroke, they may not call 911. In a stroke, minutes matter—dial 911!

Here are some important tips to remember:

  • Identify: learn about stroke risk factors.
  • Reduce your risk factors: make lifestyle changes to help reduce your stroke risk.
  • Recognize and respond: know the warning signs of stroke and call 911 immediately if you or someone close to you shows signs of a stroke.

Freda Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA is a physician and the Chief Patient Officer of Pfizer Inc.

[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]


  • 1. American Heart Association. Heart Attack or Stroke? Call 911 First. And Fast. Accessed January 11, 2018.
  • 2. American Stroke Association. Learn More Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms. Accessed January 11, 2018.
  • 3. Fussman C, Rafferty AP, Lyon-Callo S, Morgenstern LB, Reeves MJ. Lack of association between stroke symptom knowledge and intent to call 911: a population-based survey. Stroke. 2010;41(7):1501-1507.
  • 4. Hsia AW, Castle A, Wing JJ, et al. Understanding reasons for delay in seeking acute stroke care in an underserved urban population. Stroke. 2011;42(6):1697-1701.
  • 5. National Stroke Association. Minorities and Stroke. Accessed January 11, 2018.
  • 6. National Stroke Association. Preventing a Stroke. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  • 7. National Stroke Association. Stroke Facts. Accessed January 11, 2018.
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