Health Blog

Welcome to the ongoing series of blog posts from UTMB Health focusing on key aspects of maintaining your health

Stroke signs - B: Loss of Balance, E: Blurred Vision, F: Face drooping, A: Arm Weakness, S: Speech difficulty, T: time to call

When it comes to stroke, ‘time is brain’

When it comes to stroke, every second counts. Recognizing symptoms early and responding quickly is critical to reducing a person’s chance of long-term physical and mental damage—or even death.

If someone shows any of the above symptoms, call 911 immediately. Don’t wait! Stroke is a brain attack, cutting off vital blood flow and oxygen to the brain. About two million brain cells are lost for every minute strokes go untreated, so acting fast to get medical attention is critical.

Time is brain - stroke awareness

When it comes to a stroke, we say ‘time is brain.’ For every 15 minutes during a stroke, you lose 10 percent of salvageable brain,” says Roy Hunter, chief of Clear Lake Emergency Medical Services. “So, time is of the essence when it comes to treating a stroke.

As the fifth leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the U.S., it’s important to know what to do if someone exhibits the signs of stroke. The following tips could save a life, even your own:

Know the signs and symptoms. Don’t ignore these warning signs, even if they go away.

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Slurring of speech
  • Problems with vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness, loss of coordination or trouble with balance and walking
  • A sudden, severe headache

Memorize the acronym BE FAST to help you remember the warning signs and symptoms of stroke.

  • Balance—Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?
  • Eyes— Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes?
  • Face Drooping—Ask the person to smile. Is one or both sides of their face drooping?
  • Arm Weakness—Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one side drift downward? Is there weakness or numbness on one side?
  • Speech Difficult—Does the person have slurred speech? Can they repeat simple phrases?
  • Time—Call 911 immediately if you notice one or more of these signs.

Learn more about Stroke Care and Prevention