“Act F.A.S.T.” When You Suspect a Stroke

May 03, 2016

You’re having dinner with your parents when you notice mom is acting strange. She’s having trouble speaking, but manages to utter she’s feeling dizzy. You also notice one side of her face is slightly drooping. You ask her to raise both arms, but one of them drifts downward. You call 911 immediately, because you know that these are signs of a stroke, and acting fast could make all the difference in mom’s prognosis.  

The ambulance rushes mom to Shore Medical Center, a nationally recognized Primary Stroke Center certified by both the Joint Commission and the State of New Jersey. This says that Shore is committed to clinical excellence, best practice and follows the guidelines from the American Stroke Association.

You’re reassured that mom is in such good hands.

When she arrives at Shore, mom will be cared for by Shore’s Emergency Department staff and physicians who are specially trained in the care and treatment of stroke patients. Since Shore is a member of the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital Neuroscience Network, a Jefferson Neurologist will remotely evaluate mom, immediately when needed.  The Jefferson Teleneurologist will speak with you and your family, answer questions, and give recommendations to our physician, all via the help of technology.

Because she arrived within 4.5 hours of known symptom onset and meets the criteria, mom is eligible to receive tPA, a clot busting medication that could potentially reverse her stroke. The team determines that the medication has in fact broken up her clot and prevented further damage to her brain, increasing her odds of returning to a normal life. 


“Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke and what to do about it is the key to stroke care and preventing long-term disability.  The “Act F.A.S.T.” acronym makes it easy to remember,” notes RoseMary Reehill, RN, The Joint Commission, Center of Excellence Supervisor at Shore Medical Center. “Keep this information handy and you, too, can help a loved one in the event a stroke occurs.” 

  • F =  FACE Ask the person to smile, Does one side of the face droop?
  • A = ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S =  SPEECH  Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.  Does the speech sound slurred or strange?
  • T = TIME If you observe any of these signs, it is time to call 9-1-1 Immediately. Note the time of symptom onset.  

To learn more about Stroke Prevention and Shore’s Neuroscience Center, visit: http://shoremedicalcenter.org/centers/neuroscience. To download a two-sided flyer with “Act F.A.S.T.” and other important stroke information, click here