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.

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.

Here's good news, though: An alert bystander can recognize a stroke and save a life by remembering these four letters that spell "FAST" and acting accordingly:

*Face: ask the individual to SMILE.

*Arms: ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

*Speech: ask the person to SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (coherently, for example, "It is sunny out today").

*Time: if the individual had difficulty in performing any of the above three tasks, don't waste additional crucial moments and call 911 immediately (or in Israel, 101) and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

Widespread use of this simple FAST stroke-recognition test could result in prompt diagnosis, treatment of the stroke, prevention of brain damage, and saving of lives. Saving a life is one of the meritorious deeds on earth; the more you pass this article on to others, the more merit in potential lifesaving you accrue. It's that simple.

Remember: A stroke occurs when the blood supply to a part of the brain is interrupted by a blockage or breakage of blood vessels. This may 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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