Study: Most Americans don’t know common stroke signs

MANCHESTER – If you’re like most Americans, you don’t know the signs of stroke.

Only 8 percent of those surveyed recently in the American Stroke Association/Ad Council Stroke Awareness Continuous Tracking Study could identify each letter in FAST, an acronym of the most common stroke warning signs.

FAST is:

? F – Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or feel numb? Ask the person to smile.

? A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift down?

? S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, or is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence such as “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?

? T – Time to call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 911 and get him or her to the hospital immediately.

“I was in a meeting when I started to feel weird sensations on my face, heaviness on my right side, slurring of speech,” said Cinda Guagliumi, of Merrimack. “My co-workers noticed and called 911 immediately. I was having a stroke.”

Guagliumi, a mother of two young boys, is now a passionate advocate for the New Hampshire chapter of the American Heart Association.

“Learning how to spot a stroke is just as important as teaching your family CPR or what to do in the event of a fire,” she said. “With stroke seconds count.”

Additional stroke signs include sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden confusion or trouble understanding.

A free Spot a Stroke FAST app for iOS and Android is available in English and Spanish and includes a stroke warning sign quiz, high blood pressure chart and searchable map of hospitals recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association.

Stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the nation’s No. 5 leading cause of death. The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. For more information or to download the app, visit strokeassociation.org.