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  • Scripps Health

Act Fast to Stop a Stroke

Learn the acronym BE FAST, for signs of a stroke and what to do

Every year about 800,000 people suffer a stroke in the United States. A stroke occurs when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. It is the No. 5 cause of death and leading cause of disability in the US.

Despite the grim statistics, stroke is a preventable and treatable disease. Knowing the signs of stroke and getting fast treatment when stroke symptoms occur can make a huge difference.

About 80 percent of strokes could be prevented through healthy lifestyle changes and proper health care, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Who is at risk for stroke?

Some people are at higher risk than others for stroke, including people who have atrial fibrillation (AFib), which is a heart rhythm disorder, and high blood pressure.

Stroke survivors and people with heart disease may face an increased risk for complications if they become infected with the COVID-19 virus.

Importance of getting fast treatment

When stroke symptoms occur, getting fast treatment can prevent death and disability from stroke.

“The best way to treat strokes is to respond rapidly,” says Mary Kalafut, MD, a neurologist at Scripps Clinic and stroke medical director for Scripps Health. “We need to move fast because every minute can cost brain recovery. The emergency room team must recognize a stroke and alert the stroke team, including the neurologist.”

Knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke can help you take quick action and save a life, including your own.

How to spot a stroke: BE FAST

How do you know if someone is suffering a stroke? There are multiple signs to look for and a simple way to remember them: BE FAST (balance, eyes, face, arm, speech, time).

BE FAST is an updated version of the FAST acronym used to help memorize the signs of stroke.

· Balance: Sudden loss of balance or coordination.

· Eyes: Sudden blurred, double or loss of vision.

· Face Drooping: Drooping or numbness of the face.

· Arm: Weakness or numbness of arms or legs on one side of the body.

· Speech: Slurred speech, unable to speak, or difficult to understand.

· Time: If you experience ANY of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Healthy Life is brought to you by the physicians and staff of Scripps Health. For more information, or for a physician referral, visit or call 1-800-Scripps.


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