Medical Emergency Part 2: How to Recognize a Stroke

By Wendy Hennessy  |  6/3/2015

Do you know what to do in a medical emergency? Do you know what the signs of a stroke are? In Part 2 of our three-part series, we offer some quick tips on what to do if you think someone is having a stroke. Pay attention, act promptly and you could help save someone’s life!

For a person exhibiting signs of a stroke, every minute without treatment costs the victim 1.9 million brain cells. As each second passes, more of the brain cells are damaged. Stroke is the third-leading cause of death in the United States, so it is important to recognize symptoms and obtain treatment at a hospital quickly.

Victims of a stroke can suffer permanent damage including movement, speech and memory deficits as well as the risk of paralysis. Some unfortunately, may not survive a stroke. Victims who obtain treatment at a local hospital within the hour have the best outcomes.

Signs of a stroke include:

  • 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


The National Stroke Association’s Act FAST (Face Arms Speech Time) test is an important way to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Here’s what to do:

  • Face: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?
  • Arms: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • Speech: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?
  • Time: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately

By knowing how to quickly evaluate a person with a possible stroke, you can help him or her to get rapid emergency care for the best possible chances of getting a good outcome.

Health Quest Community Education offers many first aid courses as well as American Heart Association CPR courses. Learn more about specific courses and how you can help save a life!

Learn more about cutting-edge stroke care in the Hudson Valley.