Thorough Stroke Assessment Methods Can Lead to an Accurate Diagnosis

Patient and doctor talkIt’s important for everyone to know how to perform an initial, informal stroke assessment so they can recognize when they or someone around them is experiencing a stroke. Perhaps the most well-known stroke assessment method is to follow the acronym F.A.S.T. when a stroke is suspected.

  • (F) Facial drooping – Ask the person to smile. If the smile is uneven or one side of the face seems to droop, it may be a sign of a stroke.
  • (A) Arm weakness – Ask the person to raise both arms parallel to the floor and hold them in place for a few seconds. If one arm doesn’t move or begins to drift downward, it may indicate a stroke.
  • (S) Speech problems – Ask the person to repeat a sentence to you. If the person has problems comprehending speech or slurs words when responding, it may be a stroke symptom.
  • (T) Time to call for help – If any of these symptoms in this stroke assessment are present, it’s critical to call 9-1-1 right away to initiate medical treatment as quickly as possible.

When calling for help, it’s best to request the individual be taken to the nearest comprehensive stroke center, where medical professionals will have the resources necessary to treat any type of stroke and provide rehabilitation services and preventive care methods to reduce the risk of a subsequent stroke. Tampa General Hospital is a state-designated comprehensive stroke center and was the first facility on the west coast of Florida to earn the highest national designation as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, by the Healthcare Facilities Accreditation Program (HFAP). As such, we offer advanced stroke assessment methods that can help us diagnose the type of stroke and the location of the problem, and create the most appropriate treatment plan. Our physicians can perform the following tests:

  • Physical examinations
  • Blood tests
  • Computerized axial tomography (also known as a CT or CAT scan)
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
  • Cerebral angiograms
  • Carotid ultrasounds
  • Echocardiograms

Because we have a dedicated stroke staff working around the clock, we can perform a stroke assessment at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year.