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Stroke Awareness: Remember This Acronym to Save a Life

Make sure you know "BEFAST" when dealing with stroke emergencies.

McKenzie Dillon Writer
McKenzie, a Certified Sleep Science Coach and proclaimed mattress expert, has been writing sleep content in the wellness space for over four years. After earning her certification from the Spencer Institute and dedicating hundreds of hours to sleep research, she has extensive knowledge on the topic and how to improve your quality of rest. Having more experience with lying on mattresses than most, McKenzie has reviewed over 150 beds and a variety of different sleep products including pillows, mattress toppers and sheets. McKenzie has also been a guest on multiple radio shows including WGN Chicago as a sleep expert and contributed sleep advice to over 50 different websites.
Expertise Certified Sleep Science Coach, Certified Stress Management Coach, Bachelor of English.
McKenzie Dillon
2 min read
A heart with a doctor's stethoscope and report underneath

Numbness in the arm, facial drooping and dizziness are a few warning signs of a stroke. 

MarsBars/Getty Images

Someone in the US experiences a stroke every 40 seconds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and someone in the US dies of stroke every 3 minutes, 14 seconds. These are grim statistic to keep in mind during National Stroke Awareness month. But there is some comfort in knowing that strokes can be treated if you're able to get help fast. 

Strokes can occur suddenly when an artery in the body is blocked or an artery in the brain is ruptured. With quick and efficient medical attention, you can lower the chances of a long-term disability and fatality. That's why knowing the signs and being proactive in seeking care can make all the difference. 

The aptly coined acronym "BEFAST" 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.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.