About The Author
Dr. Mark Lazzaro
Vascular Neurology and Endovascular Surgical Neuroradiology Specialist
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin health network
Every second counts when you’re having a stroke, and how quickly you receive treatment can determine your long-term outcome. Learning how to correctly identifying stroke signs and symptoms is one way to receive treatment faster.
BE FAST is an acronym to help you remember common stroke symptoms:
- B for Balance, including changes in balance and coordination as well as dizziness
- E for Eyes and the importance of watching for vision loss as well as blurred or double vision
- F for Face, such as weakness and drooping
- A for Arms, including weakness, numbness and being unable to move. This also applies to legs.
- S for Speech, such as slurred or confused speech
- T for Time, including a sudden onset of symptoms, such as a terrible headache, as well as the importance of seeking immediate care when symptoms are present
If you suspect a loved one is having a stroke, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Even if you’re unsure if it’s a stroke, call 9-1-1. It’s better to seek care and find out it’s not a stroke than to delay treatment.
Taking a loved one to the hospital yourself may seem like the quickest route to treatment. However, it’s recommended to call 9-1-1 and get an ambulance. EMS staff are trained to recognize stroke symptoms and can start treatment. They also know the best locations to take patients experiencing specific stroke symptoms. For example, the Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin Froedtert Hospital is a Comprehensive Stroke Center and is recognized by the Joint Commission. That level of certification demonstrates the hospital’s commitment to care for the most complex stroke cases and deliver the highest quality of stroke care.
Use the time you wait for an ambulance to arrive to gain a better understanding of when symptoms began. Try to remember when your loved one was last without stroke symptoms. Many treatments are dictated by time, so it’s essential to know when symptoms started. It’s also helpful to gather the medications your loved one is currently taking to determine what types of treatment are available.