BE FAST Stroke Symptoms

Do you know the signs of a stroke?

B.E. F.A.S.T. is an easy way to remember the sudden signs of stroke. When you can spot the signs, you'll know that you need to call 9-1-1 for help right away. B.E. F.A.S.T. is:

  • B — Balance - Loss of balance, headache or dizziness
  • E — Eyes - Blurred vision
  • F — Facial Drooping – Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile. Is the person's smile uneven?
  • A — Arm or Leg Weakness – Is one arm and/or leg weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
  • S — Slurred Speech –Is the person unable to speak or hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence, like "The sky is blue." Is the sentence repeated correctly?
  • T — Time to call 9-1-1 – If someone shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 immediately. Check the time so you'll know when the first symptoms appeared.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and fifth most-frequent cause of death. In the five-county region, nearly 600 stroke patients were treated last year by UM Shore Regional Health emergency teams at UM Shore Medical Centers at Chestertown, Dorchester and Easton, and the UM Shore Emergency Center at Queenstown.

A stroke occurs when blood flow to a part of the brain stops. A stroke is sometimes called a "brain attack."

If blood flow is cut off for longer than a few seconds, the brain cannot get blood and oxygen. Brain cells can die, causing lasting damage. That's why experts say that "time lost is brain lost" or "time is brain." It's also why it's important to get help right away.

Ischemic stroke

Ischemic stroke occurs when a blood vessel that supplies blood to the brain is blocked by a blood clot. This may happen in two ways:

  • A clot may form in an artery that is already very narrow. This is called a thrombotic stroke.
  • A clot may break off from another place in the blood vessels of the brain, or from some other part of the body, and travel up to the brain. This is called cerebral embolism, or an embolic stroke.

Ischemic strokes may be caused by a sticky substance called plaque that can clog arteries.

Hemorrhagic stroke

A hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in part of the brain becomes weak and bursts open. This causes blood to leak into the brain. Some people have defects in the blood vessels of the brain that make this more likely.