Station InitiativesWellness Wednesday


BEFAST is the acronym we all need to know

Posted at 10:17 AM, May 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-18 12:17:34-04

Some medical conditions take a long time to appear, with symptoms gradually getting worse.

But strokes are sneaky. They can appear seemingly out of nowhere and need an immediate response.

“Most commonly strokes present, suddenly, as soon as you block a blood vessel or have a blood vessel burst, that part of the brain is affected,” said Dr. Paul Johnson, Neurologist and Hospitalist with Intermountain Health.

That’s why it’s important for everyone to know how to recognize and react to a stroke. Bones can mend. We can rebuild muscle tone. But the brain doesn’t rebuild or mend if it goes without blood…and it doesn’t take long for the damage to be irreversible.

“In that window, we can treat strokes to try to prevent permanent injury, restore blood flow to the brain. But once that injury is happened, we can't go back and undo it,” said Johnson.

Because a stroke is a sudden, violent event, an attack on the brain…reacting to it isn’t about careful consideration. It’s about speed and the courage to make a call when you aren’t completely sure what’s happening.

For many of us, when we think about how to respond to something, our first thought is, okay, don't go overboard. But doctors would rather anyone experience stroke like symptoms to err on the side of caution.

“We expect that a certain portion of people that we evaluate for strokes won't actually have a stroke, they'll have what we call a stroke mimic or something caused by another disease process. Something that's not a stroke, that looks stroke-like. We would rather that people come to the hospital to be evaluated, and be told that they have a different cause for their symptoms, rather than stroke, rather than waiting on the symptoms, and presenting to the hospital when they realized that they're not going away on their own…finding out that people waited too long, and we can't treat it at this point,” said Johnson.

So remember this acronym, and share it with those you love:

B: BALANCE - sudden severe imbalance with inability to walk.
E: EYES - loss of or blurry vision.
F: FACE - facial weakness, so a facial droop.
A: ARM - arm weakness, or arm paralysis.
S: SPEECH - speech changes, loss of speech or garbled speech words that don't make sense.
T: TIME - time, because time is essential in terms of getting to the hospital and having a stroke treated.
Strokes come on suddenly, but you can prevent them. There are some common causes of strikes – conditions that can be treated or prevented. High cholesterol, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes are among the risk factors, along with age. Those over 50 are more likely to have a stroke.

Click or tap here for more information and resources about stroke prevention.