FAST Stroke Recognition: You Can Save Lives

December 16, 2021 by Lazer Brody

Our sages teach that saving one life is tantamount to saving an entire universe. A person who is fortunate enough to save a life scores big points, in this world and in the next.

In the USA alone, nearly one million people suffer from strokes every year; roughly one out of six is fatal.

Race Against Time

Stroke symptoms aren’t always obvious. They can be subtle and difficult to identify. Know what to look for, because a lack of awareness could mean losing precious time. The stroke victim could suffer brain damage during a critically short period while people nearby fail to recognize the stroke’s symptoms. Let’s prevent that!

4 Letters to Remember: F-A-S-T

An alert bystander can recognize a stroke and save a life by remembering these four letters that spell “FAST” and act accordingly:

Face: ask the individual to SMILE.

Arms: ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

Speech: tell the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (coherently, for example, “Its cold outside”).

Time: if the individual had difficulty in performing any of the above three tasks, don’t waste additional critical seconds. Grab a cellphone, even if it’s on Shabbat. Saving a life overrides a Sabbath prohibition. So:

Call 911 immediately (or in Israel, 101) and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

This simple FAST stroke-recognition test saves lives. As such, it contributes to prompt diagnosis, quicker treatment of the stroke and prevention of brain damage as well. Saving a life is one of the meritorious deeds on earth. Therefore, the more you pass this article on to others, the more merit in potential lifesaving you accrue. It’s that simple.


Strokes to the brain are similar to heart attacks to the heart. A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is obstructed by blocked or broken blood vessels. This can be a life threatening condition. The faster you react, the greater the chances of saving the victim’s life and preventing permanent damage.

May the Almighty send a speedy recovery to all the sick, amen.

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