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Is it a Stroke? Time to BE FAST

Today's Medicine

In stroke readiness we have a saying: Time is brain.

Every minute that passes following a stroke could mean the loss of precious brain cells, and can mean the difference between a positive and negative outcome. That’s why when it comes to detecting a stroke, we urge everyone to BE FAST.


Each letter in the acronym, BE FAST, stands for a warning sign of stroke.

B – Strokes that begin in the posterior of the brain (which can account for up to 15 percent of all strokes) can often cause sudden changes in balance. You may experience dizziness or headaches as you try to maintain your balance. 

E – Posterior strokes can also cause problems with your eyes. You may lose sight, experience doubled or blurred vision, or not see things to the right or left.

F – If you notice one side of your face feels tingly and kind of droopy on just one side, that is a sign of stroke. It may feel like you just visited the dentist and had a shot of Novocaine. 

A – A loss of strength or weakness in your arm, leg or both on one side of your body can be a key indicator of stroke. This asymmetry may feel like a tingling sensation or that you just can’t move one side.

S – If you are trying to talk but your words aren’t coming out normally, that speech difficulty is a sign of stroke. You may have difficulty understanding what a person having a stroke is saying. Words can come out slurred or garbled.

T – If you experience any of the symptoms above, time is of the essence. Call 9-1-1 right away.

What to do if you experience symptoms of stroke

And it is important that you call 9-1-1 immediately and not try to drive a stroke victim to the hospital. When you call 9-1-1, ambulance crews can inform our emergency room staff that a potential stroke patient is on the way. It allows us to save precious minutes when you arrive. The quicker a stroke patient can receive treatment, the better their chance of recovering from the event.

Preventing stroke

Up to 80 percent of clot-related strokes can be prevented through proper lifestyle and diet. It’s all about:

  • Managing high blood pressure
  • Controlling cholesterol
  • Reducing blood sugar and controlling diabetes
  • Being active
  • Eating better
  • Losing weight
  • Not smoking

If you are at risk for stroke, your doctor may also prescribe medications to prevent stroke.

A healthy lifestyle begins with awareness and YOU. 

If you have questions about stroke care at Methodist, contact us at 402-354-4000.


Pam Stout

About the Author:

As the Stroke Program Coordinator at Methodist Hospital, Pam Stout, MSN, RN, SCRN, has the opportunity to evaluate the care Methodist provides stroke patients and to continually look for ways to improve that care. 

"With 80 percent of strokes being preventable, I believe it is our responsibility to ensure patients are aware of their stroke risk factors and in recognition of the signs and symptoms of stroke," said Pam.  "As the stroke program coordinator, I have I am lucky enough to be able to participate in community wide education events to help spread awareness before a stroke occurs, as well as follow patients who experience a stroke from arrival through discharge."

See More Articles by Pam Stout