Stroke is the interruption or severe reduction of blood flow to certain parts of the brain. A stroke occurs in one of two ways: when a clot disrupts the blood supply to the brain or when a blood vessel bursts in the brain. Both types of stroke deprive the brain of oxygen causing brain cells to die.

Every minute a stroke goes untreated, 1.9 million brain cells die.

That’s why it’s important to know the signs of stroke and act quickly by calling 9-1-1 if you suspect a stroke has occurred.

Know the sudden signs of stroke, using the acronym FAST to remember them easily:

Face droops on one side

Does one side of the face droop? Is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the smile uneven?

Arm weakness

Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift?

Speech difficulty

Is speech slurred? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like “The sky is blue.” Are any of the words wrong or hard to understand?

Time to call 9-1-1

If someone shows any of these signs, call 9-1-1 right away. Check the time so you know when the symptoms first appeared.

Call 9-1-1 even if the symptoms go away. A Transient Ischemic Attack (TIA) is a warning sign for a stroke with brief symptoms. Immediate treatment is needed, because a major stroke could be next.

The North Dakota Department of Health offers materials that provide information about heart disease and stroke. Materials include stroke facts, tips on how to recognize the signs and symptoms of stroke, action items on what to do in the event of stroke, and information on ways to reduce the risk of stroke. To review and order, visit the order form page.

These resources are provided for informational purposes only and are not intended to be, or to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment. Always talk to your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider about any questions you may have regarding your health or a specific medical condition. In the case of an emergency call 9-1-1.