Know the signs of stroke to save time, save brain

Dr. José Biller, chair of Neurology at Loyola and a renowned expert on stroke, talks about the signs of stroke and the importance of seeing a doctor after having one.

Every year, about 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States, and it is the leading cause of long-term disability. With stroke, time lost getting treatment equals lost brain cells, according to Dr. José Biller, chair of Neurology at Loyola and a renowned expert on stroke. A stroke is a “brain attack” that can happen in one of two ways:


Symptoms of a stroke may last only 15 to 20 minutes, but that doesn't mean the danger has passed. Call 911 and get to the hospital immediately if you experience these symptoms:

  • Sudden onset of severe headache
  • Weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Sudden vertigo, dizziness or loss of balance
  • Double vision

In addition, people often will suffer mini strokes (transient ischemic attacks) before they have a full stroke. Symptoms of mini strokes can last just a few minutes, but they should be promptly evaluated.  FAST action is crucial A simple way to remember the signs of a stroke is to think of the word "FAST."

  • Face = Is one side of your face drifting downward?
  • Arms = Is one of your arms falling lower?
  • Speech = Does your speech sound slurred or not normal?
  • Time = Time is crucial. If you have any of these signs, call 911 immediately.

Dr. Biller explains how to recognize signs of a stroke for the American Heart Association:

About stroke care and prevention at Loyola

  • Loyola Medicine has achieved the American Stroke Association Get with the Guidelines® - Stroke Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award.
  • Our Stroke Center is accredited by the Joint Commission as an Advanced Primary Stroke Center.

If you've sought treatment and wonder whether further treatment would help, call Loyola's Second Opinion Stroke Clinic at (708) 216-2438.