01 MAY 2022

Stroke Requires You to B-E-F-A-S-T

Nearly 2 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated, every second matters.

A silent killer among us claims the life of one American every four minutes – that’s 15 people every hour. 

The statistics speak for themselves. Every year, more than 795,000 people in the United States experience a stroke. It is the fifth leading cause of death in the country.

With those kinds of facts, it’s clear that when a stroke happens, every second counts. 

A stroke or “brain attack” occurs when blood flow to an area of the brain is cut off due to either blockage from a clot or a blood vessel that ruptures. When this happens, brain cells die due to a lack of blood and oxygen in that part of the brain.

“Nearly 2 million brain cells die every minute that a stroke goes untreated,” explained Beth Gladney, N.P., program manager for NorthBay Healthcare’s Stroke Program. “It’s important to ‘B.E.F.A.S.T.’ and get help quickly,” she said.

B.E.F.A.S.T.  is an acronym used as a quick and easy way to help identify the signs and symptoms of a stroke: 

B stands for “Balance.” Does the person have a loss of balance, or are they dizzy or walking differently?

E stands for “Eyes.” Can they see out of both eyes? Ask if they have sudden vision loss or blurry or double vision.

F stands for “Facial Droop.” You can ask the person to smile and check to see if the smile is uneven, and also ask them if one side is numb. 

A stands for “Arm Weakness.” Ask the patient to raise both of their arms and observe if  one arm drifts down or if the person complains of numbness on one side. 

S stands for “Speech Difficulty.” When the person speaks, listen to hear if the speech is slurred or difficult to understand. Sometimes a person may have a sudden loss of speech as well and not be able to get the words out that they are trying to say.

T stands for “Time to call 911.” If someone looks like they are having a stroke, it is important to call 911 to ensure they get to the hospital quickly. 

“Calling 911 allows emergency medical responders to begin treating the individual and call ahead to the hospital so that the team can be ready when the stroke victim arrives,” said Beth. “Call 911 even if the symptoms go away, as this could be a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which has the same symptoms as a stroke, although it usually only lasts a short time and can be a warning sign that a stroke will occur.”

In addition to knowing the signs and symptoms of a stroke, it is also important to know that about 80 percent of strokes can be prevented by knowing all the risk factors for stroke and controlling the ones that pertain to you. 

Beth said there are a few ways to reduce the risk of stroke: Know your health numbers, such as blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index and blood sugar, or if you have a heart rhythm known as atrial fibrillation. 

“Work with your health care provider to manage these numbers. If you smoke, then you should stop smoking to decrease your risk of stroke,” she said. “Eating a healthy low-sodium, low-fat diet, getting physically active and maintaining a healthy body weight can all help decrease your risk of stroke.”  

Learn more about the NorthBay Stroke Program or call (707) 646-4370 for information. BEFAST graphic outlining the steps to B-E-F-A-S-T at spotting strokes.

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