STROKE: Remember the First Three Letters, S. T. R.

by Allison Bush Editor

Stroke Awareness Month may be over, but stroke awareness should be taught every day. The below guidelines have been circulating over the internet the past few weeks, and I encourage you to take note.


During a BBQ, a friend stumbled and took a little fall, she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics)...she said she had just tripped over a brick because of her new shoes. They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of
food. While she appeared a bit shaken up, Ingrid went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening. Ingrid's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital (at 6:00 pm Ingrid passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ. Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Ingrid would be with us today.

It only takes a minute to read this. A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally. He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.

RECOGNIZING A STROKEThank God for the sense to remember the "3" steps, STR. Read and Learn Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke. Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S: Ask the individual to SMILE.
T: Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (coherently) i.e., "It is sunny out today").
R: Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call 999/911 immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke: Stick out Your Tongue

Another sign of a stroke is this: Ask the person to stick out his/her tongue. If the tongue is crooked (if it goes to one side or the other), that is also an indication of a stroke.

A cardiologist says if everyone who reads this and sends it to at least 10 people they care about, you can bet that at least one life will be saved.

Stroke Survivor and Advocate, Cleo Hutton, responds to the above guidelines:

"I am a little put off by the acronyms being used by the National Stroke Association and the 'S.T.R' used in the above guidelines. The NSA uses F = facial weakness, A=Arm weakness, S=Speech difficulties, and T=Time. There should be a UNIFIED teaching and understanding of stroke symptoms. While it is perfectly natural to trip and blame it on new shoes, a person with a left brain stroke may not even realize that he/she had a stroke or that anything out of the ordinary is happening. It is imperative to point out to people the importance of calling 911 even when you may be in doubt as to what to do. I, personally, do not desire to teach readers how to become neurologists by conducting neuro checks, which is exactly what acronyms teach. A person having a stroke may be able to smile, move an extremity, and speak clearly, but there may be damage slowly happening within the brain. The person may become agitated at other people trying to help, but calling 911 is always a safe plan. The injured person may have a medical bill, but the responsibility will be out of the lay persons hands. It is far safer and wiser, especially when EMT's are trained in stroke care."

More on Stroke:

My Stroke Anniversary: Sixteen Years of Survival

Striking Back at Stroke: Cleo's Story

Stroke Recovery: "When Will I Get Better?"

Allison Bush
Meet Our Writer
Allison Bush

Allison Bush is a former HealthCentral editor who covered a wide range of health topics.