A stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or bursts. When that happens, it cuts off blood and oxygen to the brain and brain cells die.
According to the American Stroke Association, stroke is the no. 5 cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States. Knowing how to spot the warning signs and symptoms of a stroke can make the difference between life and death.
The American Stroke Association uses the acronym "F-A-S-T" to help people remember the signs of stroke and know when to call 911.
F - Face drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven or lopsided?
A - Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S - Speech: Is speech slurred? Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.
T - Time to Call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.
Additional signs of a stroke can include: sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; and sudden severe headache with no known cause.