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Act Fast to Stop a Stroke

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

An illustration of BE FAST acronym to detect signs of stroke and know what to do.

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 serious long-term disability in the US, according to the American Heart Association.


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 literally make the difference between life and death or serious disability.


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 with 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. Stroke risk among older adults is highest during the first three days after a COVID diagnosis, according to the American Heart Association.

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.

Infographic with BEFAST stroke acronym tips to detect signs of stroke.

Watch the video and podcast on stroke prevention

Watch the San Diego Health video or listen to the podcast with host Susan Taylor and Dr. Kalafut discussing the causes, symptoms and treatments for stroke.