1020-HH-stroke_Cartoon_FullGetting help quickly for stroke — the second-leading cause of death worldwide — is more important than anything else you may be doing or have planned because time can make all the difference.

“Decades ago there were no treatments for stroke. Now we have therapies that may interrupt even the most severe and disabling stroke if we can get to it in time,” said Alexander Khalessi, M.D., director of neurovascular surgery at the University of California, San Diego and national spokesperson for the American Stroke Association’s Together to End Stroke initiative.

Calling 911 rather than driving yourself can even matter. According to recent American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Get With The Guidelines-Stroke data, people who don’t go to the hospital via an emergency vehicle reduce their odds of getting the best treatment.

Still, some people opt to ignore their symptoms. Here are some actual excuses that people have given, according to an ASA survey of medical professionals:

Woman in hospital bed: "Had a hair appointment."

For World Stroke Day this year, the ASA reminds people not to deny symptoms or delay treatment.

“Whether you are the one experiencing symptoms or you see them in someone else, remember that stroke won’t wait, and neither should you,” said Teri Ackerson, neuroscience program coordinator at Saint Luke’s Health System in Kansas City, Missouri, and a volunteer for the AHA/ASA. “The heart-breaking thing is that for many of these patients, we might have been able to decrease disability if they would have gotten to us sooner and by ambulance.”

The ASA teaches the acronym F.A.S.T. as an easy way to remember the most common stroke warning signs and how to respond: Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Time to call 911.