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Stroke Overview

Stroke overview Providence St. Peter Hospital When it comes to stroke, time is brain. If you or someone you know may be experiencing a stroke, call 911 immediately.

What is stroke?

A stroke is a ‘brain attack’ that can cause disability or even death. Strokes are the result of a blood clot blocking an artery (80-85 percent of cases) or a blood vessel breaking. Either of these events can cause brain cells to die, damaging parts of the brain.

Stroke can cause a range of disabilities, such as problems walking, eating, speaking or remembering.

Someone who has a small stroke many only experience minor changes, such as a limp, whereas someone who has a large stroke may be paralyzed or unable to speak. Some people recover fully from stroke, but most stroke survivors have some kind of lasting disability.

What are the signs of stroke?

FAST is an acronym we use to remember the signs of stroke. It looks like this:


Is the person’s face drooping? Is half of his/her face numb? Ask the person to smile. Is his/her face uneven?


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


Is speech slurred? Does s/he seem to have any trouble speaking or understanding? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, like “the grass is green.” Is the sentence correct?

T(ime) to call 911

If someone shows ANY of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get to a hospital immediately. Look at the time and note when the symptoms began, so you can share this information with health care providers.

Response time is the biggest factor when it comes to effective treatment of stroke. If an ischemic stroke (85 percent of cases) if victim can be treated quickly, it can make a huge difference in their recovery.