Description of F.A.S.T. acronym: F for face, A for arm, S for speech, T for time

Know the Signs of Stroke to Save Time, Save Brain

Loyola Medicine neurologist Jose Biller, MDJosé Biller, MD, Neurology

According to the CDC, about 795,000 Americans suffer a stroke every year. Stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the United States and is the leading cause of long-term disability.

With stroke, time lost getting treatment equals lost brain cells, according to José Biller, MD, chair of Neurology at Loyola and an internationally 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

People can also 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.

F.A.S.T. action is crucial to quickly identify the signs of stroke.

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 Medicine:

  • Loyola Medicine's 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.

José Biller, MD, is a neurologist at Loyola Medicine and is department chairperson for neurology at Loyola. His clinical interests include aneurysms, brain hemorrhage (bleeding), CADASIL syndrome, carotid atherosclerosis, carotid blockage, carotid stenosis, intracranial occlusive disease, stroke, telehealth and transient ischemic attack (TIA).

Dr. Biller completed medical school at Uruguay's University of the Republic School of Medicine and completed two neurology residencies at Henry Ford Health System's Henry Ford Hospital and Loyola University Medical Center. He completed a fellowship in cerebrovascular research at Wake Forest University's Bowman Gray School of Medicine.

You can make an in-person or virtual appointment to see Dr. Biller by calling 888-584-7888 or any of our other online appointment options.