BE FAST: What are the Early Signs of Stroke?

Elderly Woman Have Heart Disease Sitting Wheelchair

 What’s BE FAST, and what does it have to do with stroke? You never know when you will experience or witness the sudden trouble of stroke warning signs.

Many people find it hard to determine the early signs of stroke. The condition is both common and unpredictable. However, neglecting the stroke symptoms can endanger a person’s life.

According to studies, stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the US. In Singapore, stroke was recorded as the fourth leading cause of death in 2019, with a mean age of 65.

Many people fear that the numbers will likely increase as the aging population in Singapore rapidly increases.

So we must be fast or learn what BE FAST stands for.

What is Stroke and Its Risk Factors

A brain attack or stroke happens when a blood clot blocks the blood supply in the brain. It can also result from a ruptured blood vessel in the brain.

What you may have thought of as common stroke symptoms or an acute stroke may lead to a long-term disability, brain damage, or in worst cases, death.

What are stroke warning signs, and how would you know if it’s an acute ischaemic stroke, ischemic stroke, a transient ischemic attack, or a mere rise in one’s blood pressure?

There is more to learn about stroke other than the health stroke scale data, stroke risk factors, or stroke symptoms. Many stroke patients did not see it coming and ignored the early signs of stroke until it was already too late.

It all starts in the brain. It needs sufficient oxygen to work properly.

The brain normally works when your arteries and blood vessels are able to deliver oxygen-rich blood all over your brain. In the instance of a blood clot or when the blood flow in the brain is disrupted, the brain cells will die in a matter of minutes.

The lack of oxygen in the brain caused by the disrupted blood flow due to a clot in the blood vessels can lead to a stroke. It can happen instantly, so it may be hard to recognize the stroke symptoms.

This is why a stroke can be dangerous. It becomes life-threatening if it happens with no one nearby knowing the meaning of BE FAST or at least the common warning signs indicating that a patient needs immediate medical attention.

The Importance of Mnemonics Like BE FAST

BE FAST is a mnemonic, a strategy that can help improve one’s memory. Mnemonics are usually taught in the academe to make it easier for students to learn and retain what they have learned.

You can use mnemonics in many ways. They help you easily remember the list of to-do things, number sequences, names, birthdays, and many more. They come in many forms but BE FAST uses acrostics or forms the sentence using the first letter of the words.

In this instance, each letter forming BE FAST pertains to the common stroke symptoms or warning signs that will make you act fast and call for help. You can also acknowledge the warning signs of stroke to apply first aid to the patient once the symptoms began.

What are the Stroke Symptoms that Comprise the Meanings of BE FAST?

It’s important to understand the common signs of stroke and determine when it’s time to call for help and medical attention.

The patient may be lucky if they suffer from missed strokes, but luck won’t strike all the time, especially when they don’t change the lifestyle factors that led to their stroke risk and increased stroke risk factors.

BE FAST stands for the following:

B – Balance loss

E – Eyesight changes

F – Face drooping

A – Arm weakness

S – Speech difficulty or stability

T – Time to call 995

There are other mnemonics used in helping people remember the common signs and symptoms of stroke. Aside from BE FAST, there is also BE FASTER.

BE FASTER adds E for eyes and R for react, common signs you need to catch early on before the patient’s blood vessels malfunction leading to blood clot blocks, posterior circulation strokes, and other worse scenarios.

Stroke Risk Factors – B for Balance Loss

Among the early signs of stroke is arm weakness or numbness in the face arm or leg. The patient having a stroke will have trouble walking.

They will experience numbness on one side of their body. When presenting symptoms like loss of balance, the patient will experience a lack of coordination and dizziness.

They may be common signs, but ensure that you don’t leave the patient before medical attention and help arrive. Constantly ask the person how they are to keep them conscious.

While keeping an eye on the patient, ensure that another person is calling a medical emergency.

You never know, but the patient may already have signs and symptoms of ischemic strokes, transient ischemic attack, or acute ischemic stroke. Even if the patient only has high blood pressure, they still need to be looked at by a health professional before they can have any problem with their blood vessel or increase their stroke risk.

Stroke Risk Factors – E for Eyesight Changes

While sudden changes in a person’s vision can mean other things than a stroke, certain changes are considered stroke risk or warning signs.

The changes in one’s vision depend on the stroke severity. The visual symptoms leading to stroke include having a double vision or blurred sight. These visual symptoms lead to partial or complete loss of vision, which likely means that a patient needs immediate medical attention.

Eyesight changes due to stroke can lead to brain damage or other neurological disorders if the patient is not given early treatment. They may experience severe headache before experiencing vision loss or any eyesight changes.

Stroke Risk Factors – F for Face Drooping

Face drooping is among the most common signs of stroke. You will notice the patient’s face becoming weak or having a sudden numbness.

There are cases when a patient doesn’t feel anything wrong, but you will notice their face drooping when they smile. This may indicate that stroke affects one side of their facial muscles.

Aside from Bell’s Palsy, this drooping or acute facial paralysis commonly happens to people suffering from ischemic stroke or acute ischemic stroke.

This is one symptom that many people associate with stroke, so they may do an acute intervention or ask the person how they are feeling while waiting for medical assistance.

Stroke Risk Factors – A for Arm Weakness

The weakness in the arms that stroke patients feel results from spasticity. It refers to the sudden tightness of the muscles.

A person having a stroke suffers from weakness or paralysis of one or more of the muscles in the shoulders or arms. Aside from having an arm weak, it may also have a limited feeling that can lead to numbness.

The weakness comes from the blood vessel’s disruption in the blood flow. It may lead to leg weakness as your muscles become weaker.

This is a common sign of a transient ischemic attack, which doesn’t last long as a stroke.

Stroke Risk Factors – S for Speech Difficulty or Stability

As the blood supply in the brain gets disrupted, a patient will experience speech difficulty and stability issues. One arm or both arms will feel numb, and you will notice leg weakness that may last until you get medical attention.

Leg weakness will affect your stability. Aside from that, you will have trouble speaking with your speech slurred, no matter how hard you try to get someone’s attention.

The speech difficulty may be a sign that you are experiencing a stroke in the left side of your brain. It may be the part where the blood vessel fails to supply sufficient oxygen-rich blood. The left side of the brain is responsible for controlling language and speech.

Stroke Risk Factors – T for Time to Call 995

When you see one or more signs comprising the mnemonic BE FAST, don’t hesitate and call 995. You must get an ambulance to take the patient to the hospital to provide immediate medical attention and prevent treatment delay.

Learning and Understanding the Signs of Stroke

If you have an older patient at home or someone who has had a stroke before, you have to consider hiring maid for elderly. A person susceptible to having an ischemic stroke, those with high blood pressure or unmanageable blood pressure, have to be consistently monitored.

Safety First

If you can’t look after a loved one or get a private nurse to look after them while you are at work, you may consider placing them in a home care Singapore where they can be monitored.

The people working in a home care setting know the signs and symptoms by heart. They know what to do in an emergency, including basic first aid treatment. They also have access to emergency hotline services whenever needed.

Final words

BE FAST is a mnemonic pertaining to the early signs of stroke. You never know when a stroke can happen, especially when you have an older patient to care for. It is best to hand out the responsibilities to an elderly caregiver who would know what to do when they see the common signs of stroke before the matters get out of hand.

Joshua is the founder of RC Caregivers. Having been the primary caregiver of his father, he has been undertaking ways to provide affordable and quality care, not just to his father, but to all elderly in Singapore. He has founded multiple care companies, such as Red Crowns Senior Living, and has been featured in Straits Times, Zaobao and Money 93FM. He has also been lauded by DBS, with the company being the recipient of the DBS foundation grant.
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