How To Spot A Stroke (Learn The Warning Signs And Act Fast!)

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How To Spot A Stroke
How To Spot A Stroke. Image © (under license)

Please bookmark and share this graphic – and learn the classic stroke signs. Remember the acronym “BE FAST” and then see if you can remember the 6 words that go with the 6 letters:

B – Balance. Loss of balance, headache or dizziness
E – Eyes. Blurred vision.
F – Face. One side of the face is drooping (this is a classic stroke sign).
A – Arms. Arm or leg weakness / loss of function; often on one side.
S – Speech. Speech difficulties.
T – Time. Time to call the ambulance immediately.

Stroke Statistics

When it comes to the incidence of stroke, there is some good news for men and cause for alarm for women. Recent studies on this subject have found out that incidences of stroke have gone down in recent years, but this decline is only significant in men.

Researchers conducted an analysis of stroke occurrences from the year 1993 up to 2010. This was done in several counties in Kentucky and Ohio where women recorded almost 60% of all the incidences. [1] Adjustments were made to determine the change rate in men and women. Stroke occurrences for men have gone down from 263 to 192 per a hundred thousand men, while for women, it moved from 217 to 198 per a hundred thousand of them. While the results indicate a drop in the case of women, the difference is much smaller.

Potential Causes Of Strokes

A “statistically insignificant” change is cause for alarm as it shows that there has been little improvement in the condition for women. What is worse is that no person has been able to account for this situation. Dr. Tracy E. Madsen, who works as an assistant professor of emergency medicine at Brown, however, pointed out that some risk factors have greater impact on women than in men.

Risk factors that may cause stroke include heart problems, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes. According to her, there is a chance that women may have not been managing these risk factors to the same extent. [2] There may also be biological differences that lie in how the risk factors cause stroke in women in comparison to men.

Reason for Concern

The Neurology journal released a study that also found that while the stroke incidences for both women and men decreased from 1999 to 2005, they stagnated for women from 2005 to 2010 while the drop continued for men. This is a cause for concern as it means that the case for women is one that needs a lot of scrutiny. Dr. Kathryn Rexrode from Boston Brigham and Women’s Hospital gave a similar analogy to that of Dr. Madsen, but there is need for extensive research.

Why You Should Know About Stroke

The bottom-line of this information and the speculations that surround it is that women need to be aware of the fact that they are at risk. In the past, stroke occurrences were often associated with men and seen as a “male disease”, but it is now clear that the condition is prevalent in women, with a high risk of causing disability and death.

One out of twenty deaths in the United States is caused by stroke, and every four minutes, a person is killed by this same disease. Each year, the country records more than 795,000 people having strokes, most of whom are first incidences. [3] These numbers are alarmingly high and unfortunate facts. This is because stroke diminishes people’s mobility in more than half of its survivors who are above 65 years of age.


[1] CDC. “Stroke Facts.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 6 Sept. 2017,

[2] Madsen, Tracy E., et al. Sex-specific stroke incidence over time in the Greater Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky Stroke Study. Neurology 89.10 (2017): 990-996.

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