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BEFAST: The Life-Saving Acronym Everyone Should Know for Strokes

 BEFAST: The Life-Saving Acronym Everyone Should Know for Strokes


Someone in the US experiences a stroke every 4 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and it’s among the top leading causes of death for Americans. A stroke can occur when an artery in the body is blocked or an artery in the brain is ruptured. 

But there is some comfort in knowing that strokes can be treated if you’re able to get help fast. 

Quick and efficient medical attention lowers the chances of a long-term disability and fatality. Knowing the signs and being proactive in seeking care can make all the difference. The aptly named BEFAST acronym is a helpful tool that guides you through helping yourself or a loved one through a stroke. 

Learn more about how to BEFAST below, and read all about the signs of a stroke you should be paying attention to. 

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Signs of a stroke

General signs of a stroke include:

  • Numbness in the face, arm or leg, particularly on one side of your body 
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding others
  • Sudden confusion and mental fogginess
  • Sudden vision issues in one or both eyes
  • Sudden dizziness, incoordination and trouble walking
  • Sudden migraine headache 

Signs of a stroke tend to look the same in men and women, but signs can be less intense in women and are often overlooked. In addition to the signs listed above, women may also feel the following symptoms before stroke:

  • Fatigue
  • Headaches
  • Mind fogginess and memory issues
  • Nausea and vomiting 

Remember BEFAST to help identify a stroke 

This is where the acronym BEFAST comes in. It’s a helpful resource to help recognize if someone is having a stroke and what you should do. 

B: Balance problems

Someone is suddenly unable to stay balanced, experiencing dizziness and struggling to walk.

E: Eyesight problems

Someone suddenly experiences blurry vision and sees double or black. 

F: Face muscle drooping

One side of the face is dropping and unable to function as normal.

A: Arm numbness 

One arm suddenly feels numb or weak and cannot be raised simultaneously with the other. 

S: Speech difficulties

Someone is blurring their speech, speaking incoherently or unable to repeat phrases.

T: Time to call for help

If you or someone is experiencing one or more of these symptoms, especially to one side of the body, call 911 immediately. Quick medical care is vital in preventing serious long-term harm or disability. 

Possible causes of a stroke 

While there are risk factors of stroke that can’t be changed, like family history or gender, some are preventable. 

Below is a list of possible stroke risk factors that can be managed: 

  • Smoking
  • High blood pressure
  • Obesity
  • An excess of alcohol
  • Drug usage
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes 

For more advice on managing heart health, here are nine tips to help lower your risk of heart disease and what to do if someone is experiencing a heart attack.



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