This Simple Acronym May Save Your Life

Portrait of young woman at outdoors

May is celebrated as National Stroke Awareness Month, with doctors and other healthcare professionals working to educate the public about the importance of reducing their risk of stroke.

“Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and a leading cause of disability,” said Jose Biller, MD, chair of Loyola’s Department of Neurology and a nationally known stroke specialist. “Stroke can happen to anyone at any age.”

It’s true that genetics play a factor in who is at risk of having a stroke, so you should be extra cautious if you have a close relative with a history of stroke. Fortunately, you can reduce your risk of stroke by quitting smoking, reducing alcohol use, staying at a healthy body weight, and controlling chronic medical conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes.

The acronym FAST can provide protection in an emergency situation. Teach it to your friends and family today so you can all watch out for each other.

  • F. Face. Ask the person to smile to see if one side of the face droops.
  • A. Arms. Ask the person to raise both arms to see if one arm drifts downward.
  • S. Speech. Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase to see if words slurred or strange.
  • T. Time. If you observe any of these signs of a stroke, it’s time to call 9-1-1. Prompt medical treatment can reduce the risk of death or serious long-term complications.

The American Stroke Association website provides more information for people interested in learning how to reduce their risk of stroke or move on with life after a stroke.