Recognize Stroke Symptoms With The F.A.S.T Acronym From CDC

As physical therapists, we see most stroke patients as part of their recovery process. As a result, we learn a lot about the circumstances of each patient’s onset, and have a deep appreciation for the value of speedy intervention. That’s why we want everyone to know some key facts about strokes as well as the CDC F.A.S.T. acronym. With this knowledge you can help others receive a quicker medical response, save lives, and achieve a better outcome in their post-stroke physical rehabilitation.

Key Facts About Stroke In The United States From The CDC

  •  According to the CDC, every year about 800,000 people in the USA have a stroke.
  • One in every four is a recurrent stroke.
  • About two-thirds of all stroke sufferers survive and result in death.

Stroke Risk Factors

There are several risk factors that can increase your risk for stroke.  These risk factors are age, sex ethnicity, tobacco use, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, and obesity.

Signs & Symptoms

These symptoms are common signs of a stroke and you should call 911 IMMEDIATELY if you experience any of these symptoms.

  • SUDDEN onset of dizziness.
  • Trouble walking, or loss of balance and coordination.
  • SUDDEN trouble with vision.
  • SUDDEN severe headache with no known cause.
  • SUDDEN numbness of the face, arm, leg.
  • SUDDEN confusion or trouble understanding others speaking to you.

Remember The Signs of a Stroke With The CDC F.A.S.T Acronym

  • F= Facial drooping. Ask the person to smile and does the face droop/drop on one side?
  • A=Arm weakness. Ask the person to raise up both arms, does one side drop lower or drift?
  • S=Speech difficulty. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, are their words slurred?
  • T=Time to call 911 if a person has any of these symptoms.

If the above symptoms go away in a few minutes, you may have had what is called a Transient Ischemic Attack or TIA.  Although these symptoms may be brief they are very serious and need to be addressed by a medical professional.  Many people ignore these brief symptoms thinking because they did not last long or only happened once it is no big deal.  However, this is your body’s way of telling you something is going on and it needs to be addressed.

Remember a stroke is a medical emergency and it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible.  Don’t wait but call 911 you could save a life.


  2. Post-Stroke Rehabilitation Fact Sheet | National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (
  3. Stroke rehabilitation: What to expect as you recover – Mayo Clinic