Stroke: Signs and Symptoms

Time Lost is Brain Lost— B.E. F.A.S.T.

Stroke is a leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability, according to the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA). Learning the signs and symptoms of a stroke are both simple and beneficial. Remember the acronym Be Fast.


Balance: Does the person feel sudden dizziness? Ask the person to stand or balance with one leg elevated.

Eyes: Does vision become blurred? Ask the person to describe a nearby object.

Face: Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.

Arms: Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.

Speech: Does it sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase, such as “the sky is blue.”

Time: If you observe any of these signs, then don’t wait it’s time to call 9-1-1.

Don’t drive! People who arrive in an ambulance get care faster. You have a better chance of getting back to normal if you remember to BE FAST and call 9-1-1.

Spectrum Health Lakeland is proud to have earned the Gold Seal of ApprovalTM for Primary Stroke Centers from The Joint Commission. Lakeland Medical Center in St. Joseph and Lakeland Hospital, Niles have been certified since 2008. This distinction recognizes centers that make exceptional efforts to foster better outcomes for stroke care.

“Our patients are strongly encouraged to work on stroke prevention with their primary care providers. If a stroke does occur, patients should feel secure knowing that the team at Lakeland will provide first rate, nationally recognized stroke care,” explains Robert Ward, III, DO, FACN, Medical Director of the Lakeland Stroke Center.

Achievement of Primary Stroke Center Certification signifies an organization’s dedication to fostering better outcomes for patients. Lakeland’s Primary Stroke Center Certification has demonstrated that its program meets critical elements of performance to achieve long-term success in improving outcomes for stroke patients.


Be prepared!

Know the signs and symptoms of a stroke and have a plan. A stoke can happen to anyone at any ages. However, most strokes happen to older individuals.

Women face extra risks due to hormone changes associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. In fact, women who use birth control products that contain a combination of estrogen and progestin may double their risk for heart attack and stroke. Click here to learn more.

Each year stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer.

The lifetime risk of stroke for women between the ages of 55 and 75 in the United States is one in five. Currently, stroke kills twice as many women as breast cancer does, making stroke the third leading cause of death for women.

Surprised? You’re not alone. Many women do not know their risk of having a stroke. These facts are alarming, but there is good news: four in five strokes are preventable That’s why it’s important to know your risk for stroke and take action to reduce the risk.

What puts women at risk for stoke?

High blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a main risk factor for stroke. More than two in five women have blood pressure greater than or equal to 130/80 mm Hg or are taking medicine to control their blood pressure. 

Women also have unique risk factors for stroke:

  • Having high blood pressure during pregnancy.
  • Using certain types of birth control medicines, especially if women also smoke.
  • Having higher rates of depression

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