Warning Signs of Stroke – BE FAST

Published on August 7, 2022

A stroke can suddenly disrupt the lives of the patient as well as of the immediate family. The brain damage due to the stroke often results in life-long disability. The extent of the disability can be limited by prompt treatment, especially when administered within 3 hours of the stroke. This means that the patient should reach the hospital as soon as possible.

A person suffering from a stroke is not in a position to understand what is happening to him/her. Therefore, the bystander plays an important role – the bystander should be able to recognize an evolving stroke, act fast and call for an ambulance as soon as possible.

Warning Signs of Stroke – BE FAST

The acronym BE FAST can guide a bystander to recognize the early symptoms of a stroke. It stands for

  • B – Balance issues.

The individual may have trouble walking and may lean to one side more than the other

  • E – Eye symptoms.

The individual may suffer from sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes, double vision or difficulty in seeing sidewords or towards the top.

  • F – Facial weakness. 

The weakness of facial muscles may result in drooping of one side of the face with the smile and tongue deviated towards one side.

  • A – Weakness of the arm

Weakness of the arm muscles may result in an inability to keep an arm raised, or to lift a cup and bring it close to the mouth.

  • S – Sudden difficulty in speaking or understanding.

The speech may sound slurred or garbled. The individual may not be able to repeat a simple phrase clearly.

  • T – Time.

Time is of the essence following a stroke. The patient should not be driven to the hospital by bystanders. Instead, an ambulance should be called so that diagnostic tests and initial treatment can be initiated while the patient is on the way to the hospital.



Chen X, Zhao X, Xu F, Guo M, Yang Y, Zhong L, Weng X and Liu X (2022) A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Comparing FAST and BEFAST in Acute Stroke Patients. Front. Neurol. 12:765069. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2021.765069

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