The acronym stands for Facial drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulties and Time to call emergency services. The stroke experts at Beaumont Health created an updated acronym – FASTER – which adds two additional, but key, stroke symptom indicators.
Focused assessment with sonography in trauma (FAST) is widely used for evaluating patients with blunt abdominal trauma; however, it sometimes produces false-negative results. Presenting characteristics in the emergency department may help identify patients at risk for false-negative FAST result or help the physician predict injuries in patients with a negative FAST result who are unstable or deteriorate during observation. Alternatively, false-negative FAST may have no clinical significance. The objectives of this study are to estimate associations between false-negative FAST results and patient characteristics, specific abdominal organ injuries, and patient outcomes.
- F stands for Face, which refers to drooping or numbness on one side of the face versus the other. Ask the person to smile to make the droop more apparent.
- A stands for Arms, which refers to one arm being weaker or more numb than the other. Ask the individual to raise both arms up and hold them for a count of ten. If one arm falls or begins to drop, then this could be a sign of a stroke.
- S stands for Stability, which refers to steadiness on your feet. Sometimes individuals will fall, feel very dizzy or be unable to stand without assistance. Difficulty maintaining balance, trouble walking and loss of coordination are all possible stroke symptoms.
- T stands for Talking, which refers to changes in speech including slurring, garbled, nonsensical words, or the inability to respond appropriately. Individuals experiencing a stroke may be difficult to understand, or they may have difficulty understanding others. Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like “The sky is blue.”
The FAST acronym was developed in the UK in 1998 by a group of stroke physicians, ambulance personnel, and an emergency department physician and was designed to be an integral part of a training package for ambulance staff. The acronym was created to expedite administration of intravenous tissue plasminogen activator to patients within 3 hours of acute stroke symptom onset. The instruments at this time with most evidence of validity were the Cincinnati Prehospital Stroke Scale (CPSS) and the Los Angeles Prehospital Stroke Screen (LAPSS).