When it comes to stroke, love means making the call.

A stroke is a brain attack, caused when an artery is blocked by a clot or bursts - and part of the brain starts to die.

Check for the signs of a stroke by thinking FAST:

  • Face – does their face droop on one side?
  • Arm – can they lift both their arms?
  • Speech – do they have trouble speaking?
  • Time – If they have any of these signs, call 911 immediately.
Ambulance driving to hospital

See a sign of stroke? Call 911 now

When you call 911 for someone who might be having a stroke, you might be saving their life. Thanks to new treatments in recent years, it's possible for a stroke patient who gets care quickly to not only survive, but to avoid serious disability. Faster treatment means they're more likely to return home to family and routines.

Yet only 58% of stroke patients in Washington arrive at the hospital by ambulance.

Signs of stroke

If you think someone might be having a stroke, think FAST. Just one of these signs — from mild to severe — may indicate a stroke. Even if the sign comes and goes, call 911 right away.

Man in green shirt with face drooping.

Ask them to smile. Does their face droop on one side?

Man in green shirt holding arm out to side.

Ask them to lift both arms. Does one arm stay down or drift down?

Man in green shirt exhibiting stroke sign of garbled speech.

Is their speech slurred, garbled, or slow? Do they have trouble talking?

Hand holding cell phone while fingers push 911 to get help for stroke.

Then it's time to call 911.

Signs of a stroke start suddenly and include:

Line drawing of person with arm up.

Sudden numbness or weakness in their face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body.

Line drawing of person saying A,B,C...

Sudden confusion or trouble understanding speech.

Line drawing of eye with slash indicating cannot see.

Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.

Line drawing of two people, one leaving over another indicating balance issues.

Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, or loss of balance or coordination.

Line drawing of person's head with circles around it indicating headache.

Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

Overcoming 'wait and see'

Even if you're familiar with the signs of stroke, they may be confusing or unclear in the moment. Especially in family settings, that uncertainty can slow down decision-making – which delays the patient's arrival at the hospital.

When they see signs of stroke as mild or insignificant, family members often decide against calling an ambulance. In many cases, they instead discuss the symptoms among themselves until they agree to “wait and see” what happens. That leads to treatment delays with sometimes serious health consequences for their loved ones.

Family group - take care of family by knowing stroke signs.
Hand holding cell phone while fingers push 911- make the call to prevent stroke..

Make the call

Don't wait. When you think someone might be having a stroke, call 911 now.

You don't have to be sure it's a stroke to call for emergency response. It's the doctor's job to make the diagnosis and provide treatment. It's your job to make the call.

You could save a life. What a great way to say "I love you."

More Information

Download stroke education materials

American Stroke Association

Washington Coverdell Stroke Program

1. Dhand, A., Luke, D., Lang, C., Tsiaklides, M., Feske, S., & Lee, J. M. (2019). Social networks and risk of delayed hospital arrival after acute stroke. Nature.