Stroke Center

Recognizing Stroke

The key to effective treatment is recognizing stroke early. Use FAST to remember the warning signs:


The following three steps are an easy way to determine whether someone is in the midst of stroke:

  • Ask the individual to smile.
  • Ask him or her to raise both arms.
  • Ask the person to speak a simple sentence coherently. (For example, "It is sunny out today.")

If he or she has trouble with any of these tasks, call 911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Just because a person can do these three tasks doesn't mean that he or she is in the clear. Other signs of stroke include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause

If you think someone is having a stroke, call 911. If you are unsure, call First Nurse at 515-239-6877 in Ames or 800-524-6877 from anywhere in Iowa. The sooner a stroke is properly diagnosed and treated, the better the chances of preventing brain damage.


* FAST image courtesy National Stroke Association

Ask the Nurse

Stroke Program Coordinator Sharon Ellrich

Mary Greeley Medical Center Stroke Program Coordinator Sharon Ellrich, R.N., M.S.N. provides information about stroke that everyone should know.

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