'BE FAST' in recognizing stroke signs and symptoms

Photo source: MGN

The acronym, FAST is often used to detect a stroke. If you notice F - facial drooping, A - arm weakness or S - slurred speech, then it's T - time to call 911.

Recently however, medical professionals have tweaked the acronym. It's now BE FAST. the B stands for balance; if someone can't stand without swaying or falling, there is something wrong. The E is for eyes; sudden onset of blurriness or loss of vision in one, or both eyes, is also cause for concern.

Vikki Smolik, stroke coordinator at Baptist Health Care sa so far, the new acronym has proved successful.

"Before adding B and E to the acronym, there were about 15 percent of strokes that were missed, or people weren't taking those signs and symptoms as being a stroke," said Vikki. "After adding the B and the E, only 5 percent of the population were missing that opportunity to be treated as a medical emergency."

Each year, according to the Stroke Center, about 795,000 people suffer a stroke. In 2010, Lori McMillon was one of them.

"It was like I was inside my head but I couldn't get out what I was trying to say," recalled Lori.

Seven years later, it's still on the forefront of her mind.

"Mine wasn't a typical stroke," said Lori. "I didn't have the normal signs."

At first she blamed her signs on tiredness. It wasn't until a coworker of Lori's stepped up and said something that she admitted something just wasn't right.

"She took control of the situation," said Lori. "She knew exactly what she was doing, she got me to the ER literally within minutes."

If it wasn't for Lori's coworker, she said the day could have ended very differently. That's why she now places so much importance on educating others on stroke awareness.

"Know the signs, it's an easy acronym to learn," said Lori. "Learn the signs and when in doubt, call 911."

Vikki couldn't agree more, adding it's always better to be safe than sorry.

"It's okay to walk up to someone and say, 'hey, do you feel like you're having a problem speaking? Can I call 911?' We need to be more proactive with who we're around in our environment," said Vikki. "And really recognize the importance of getting them help."

The sooner a stroke is diagnosed; the faster treatment can be administered. Oftentimes, with strokes, minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

Baptist Health Care is hosting a stroke symposium Friday, May 19, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. It's open to health care professionals and the public. Click here for more information and to register.

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