Know the Signs and Symptoms of a Stroke – BE FAST

Tricia Desrocher, PT, MS and Certified Stroke Rehabilitation Specialist
Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital Network

According to the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, stroke is the No. 5 cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. Yet 80% of strokes are preventable. Know the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Be informed and BE FAST  when it comes to recognizing a stroke and seeking care.

A stroke is a sudden disorder of the blood supply to the brain and it can cause irreversible damage and disability. If a loved one is showing signs of a stroke try to identify when the symptoms started and communicate this to the Emergency Response Team. Being able to share this information is essential because life-saving treatments are only available for a short period of time after the onset of stroke symptoms. When given in a timely manner, these treatments could improve your recovery. You’ll also want to ask the Emergency Response Team to take your loved one to a certified stroke treatment center.

Know the Symptoms

You’re likely familiar with the F.A.S.T acronym but you may not have heard about B.E. F.A.S.T. It’s another way to recognize all of the signs of a stroke while also reminding you to act quickly if you suspect a stroke.

B.E. F.A.S.T.

  • B: BALANCE – sudden loss of balance, staggering gait, severe vertigo
  • E: EYES – sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes, onset of double vision
  • F: FACE – uneven or drooping face, drooling, ask the patient to smile
  • A: ARM (LEG) – loss of strength or sensation on one side of the body in the arm and/or leg
  • S: SPEECH – slurring of speech, difficulty saying words or understanding what is being said, sudden confusion
  • T: TIME – act quickly and call 911 immediately

Stroke is an emergency. If a stroke is suspected, call 911 immediately and ask to be taken to a certified stroke treatment center!

Should you or a loved one experience a stroke, continued care may be needed for the best chance at recovery. The hospital team will explain your post-hospital care options. Whenever possible, the American Stroke Association strongly recommends that stroke patients continue their treatment at an inpatient rehabilitation facility rather than a skilled nursing facility. While receiving care at Northeast Rehabilitation Hospital’s Stroke Rehabilitation Center, a patient participates in at least three hours of rehabilitation a day from a multidisciplinary team including physical, occupational and speech therapists. This team also includes specialized rehabilitation nursing and medical care from physicians.

Lifestyle Tips for Stroke Prevention

Manage your risk for a stroke and other diseases today. Here are some tips to help you and your family live your best life.

  • Exercise regularly and be active
  • Stop smoking
  • Eat a healthy balanced diet with fruits and vegetables
  • Reduce saturated and trans fats
  • Reduce salt and sugar intake
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Take medications as prescribed

If you have concerns or are not sure about your risk, speak with your primary care physician and encourage your loved ones to do the same.

Communication is essential for everyone’s health and safety. When you are speaking with healthcare providers ask three specific questions to help you better understand your health risks, conditions and what you or a loved one needs to do to stay healthy:

  1. What is my main problem?
  2. What do I need to do?
  3. Why is it important for me to do this?