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BE FAST to Stop a Stroke

A stroke occurs when an artery that leads to or is inside the brain becomes blocked or damaged. A clot can block the artery or an artery can burst. This reduces or completely blocks blood flow to an area of the brain. In the South, stroke is the third leading cause of death and the number 1 cause of disability.

We all need to know the signs of stroke. This simple knowledge can help save a life and prevent stroke-related, life-long disabilities.


A great way to remember the signs of stroke is by using the acronym BEFAST. Here’s what it means:

B – Balance: Sudden loss of balance or coordination
E – Eyes: Sudden vision change/trouble seeing
F – Face: One side of the face droops when the person smiles
A – Arm: One arm drifts down when the person raises arms
S – Speech: Person’s speech in slurred, slow or strange
T – Time: If you or someone around you is experiencing one, some or all of these symptoms, BEFAST and call 911 immediately for emergency medical assistance.

Do not drive yourself or the person to the hospital. Paramedics can begin to help stop a stroke in the field. This is critical. The longer the brain is starved of oxygen, the greater the chances of death or permanent disability.

Many hospitals, including WakeMed, have expanded the FAST acronym that was previously used to BEFAST because issues with balance and vision – particularly when these issues occur suddenly – are common stroke symptoms.


Quality Care for Stroke Patients

In addition, emergency medical responders know where the closest Joint Commission certified Primary Stroke Center is. In Wake County, both WakeMed Cary Hospital and WakeMed Raleigh Campus are Joint Commission certified Primary Stroke Centers. This means teams of physicians, nurses and other caregivers stand at the ready, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to treat a person who is having a stroke as quickly and effectively as possible.

May is National Stroke Month. Make learning the BEFAST acronym a priority for your family to help save lives in your community or wherever you may be in the world.

WakeMed Stroke Programs

WakeMed Raleigh Campus and Cary Hospital are Joint Commission-certified Primary Stroke Centers. We offer a full continuum of stroke care – from diagnosis in our Emergency Departments, to caring for stroke patients in the Neurosciences department, WakeMed Rehabilitation Hospital, and outpatient facilities.

Learn more about our stroke programs.