Surveys show up to ninety-seven percent of Americans don't know the warning signs of a stroke, which means most people might not get the treatment they need fast enough because when it comes to a stroke lost time equals lost brain cells.
"And so the more brain cells die, as they decline the disability becomes greater, and if it's allowed to progress it can reach a critical point where it begins to threaten the individual's life," said Dr. Olajide Williams of Harlem Hospital Center.
The National Stroke Association has developed a simple screening test to determine if someone might be having a stroke. It's called FAST, and it works like this; F is for face, ask a person to smile any lopsidedness or drooping on one side is a sign of trouble. A is for arms; ask them to raise both arms, again, any asymmetry or inability to raise an arm or one arm kind of drifts around is a warning sign. Then S is for speech; ask the person to say their name and address. Any slurring sends up a red flag. Finally, T is for time, meaning don't waste any.
If you notice any of these clues call 911 immediately because brain cells may be dying. There are other signs; a sudden crushing headache, sudden dizziness or incoordination, but the "FAST" test covers the most common.