'BE FAST': Knowing the Signs of a Stroke

May is American Stroke Month. A neurologist explains what 'BE FAST' is and how it can help you tell if someone is having a stroke.

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CLEVELAND - May is American Stroke Month.

For those unfamiliar, a stroke is when blood flow to the brain is blocked or there is bleeding in the brain.

According to the CDC, every 40 seconds someone in the United States has a stroke.

“When a stroke does happen, there is a sudden loss of neurologic function, which can be very devastating and can range from loss of vision, loss of speech, loss of motor function, to complete incapacitation,” explained Amre Nouh, MD, regional chairman of neurology for Cleveland Clinic Florida.

Dr. Nouh said if you suspect someone is having a stroke, try to remember the acronym, “BE FAST.”

That stands for balance, eyes, face, arm, speech and time.

So, is the person experiencing sudden issues with their balance or coordination?

Are they having trouble seeing?

Do you notice any drooping or numbness in their face or weakness in their arm?

Are they having difficulty with their speech?

And finally, time, which is a reminder to call 911 right away.

“It’s best to avoid bringing someone in by car because there are a lot of other issues that can happen during a stroke, things like hemodynamic instability, blood pressure issues, and safety. So, leave it to the professionals and call 911 and wait for the ambulance,” Dr. Nouh advised.

Treatment options vary based on the severity of the stroke, and the same goes for recovery.

In some cases, a person could suffer permanent injury, like paralysis on one side of the body.

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Cleveland Clinic is a nonprofit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. Located in Cleveland, Ohio, it was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. Cleveland Clinic has pioneered many medical breakthroughs, including coronary artery bypass surgery and the first face transplant in the United States. Cleveland Clinic is consistently recognized in the U.S. and throughout the world for its expertise and care. Among Cleveland Clinic’s 81,000 employees worldwide are more than 5,743 salaried physicians and researchers, and 20,160 registered nurses and advanced practice providers, representing 140 medical specialties and subspecialties. Cleveland Clinic is a 6,690-bed health system that includes a 173-acre main campus near downtown Cleveland, 23 hospitals, 276 outpatient facilities, including locations in northeast Ohio; Florida; Las Vegas, Nevada; Toronto, Canada; Abu Dhabi, UAE; and London, England. In 2023, there were 13.7 million outpatient encounters, 323,000 hospital admissions and observations, and 301,000 surgeries and procedures throughout Cleveland Clinic’s health system. Patients came for treatment from every state and 132 countries. Visit us at clevelandclinic.org. Follow us at twitter.com/CleClinicNews. News and resources available at newsroom.clevelandclinic.org.

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