Remember 'BEFAST'

Our country has witnessed a massive increase in morbidity and mortality of stroke over the past few decades. Studies from India reported poor awareness of
stroke among the population, where the respondents could not identify the manifestation of stroke. Lack of knowledge of warning signs of stroke and inadequate emergency response often lead to delays in delivery medical/emergency care within the golden hour. The most crucial predictor of outcome of treatment of stroke is the time period, often called golden hour which is the first three hour from the onset of stroke. If recognized early and managed optimally, acute paralysis in stroke can be reversed. Prompt access to medical services after noticing the initial symptoms may increase the chances of a favourable outcome.

A stroke can happen to anyone, at anytime and anywhere. It occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot or ruptures. When that happens, a section of the brain cannot get the blood and oxygen it needs, so it and brain cells die. Today stroke is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the second leading cause of death. Many stroke survivors face significant challenges that include physical disability, communication problems, changes in how they think and feel, loss of work, income, and social networks. In extreme cases, stroke may prove fatal too with dreadful socio-economic ramifications that can make the family undergo serious financial issues.

The acronym BEFAST has been used by the National Stroke Association, American Heart Association and others to educate the public on detecting symptoms of a stroke. Acronym FAST was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 1998.

BEFAST Reminder of Stroke Signs

B- Balance: Is the person suddenly having trouble with balance or coordination?
E- Eyes: Is the person experiencing suddenly blurred or double vision or a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes without pain?
F – Face: Drooping. …
A- Arm: Weakness. …
S- Speech: Difficulty. …
T- Time: to call hospital for help


Other Stroke Symptoms

Watch for Sudden:
  • Numbness or weakness of face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of the body 
  • Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding speech
  • Trouble Seeing in one or both eyes
  • Trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Severe Headache with no known cause 

It is important to recognize that a person does not need to have all of these symptoms to have experienced a stroke; they may also experience atypical symptoms like numbness or tingling on one half of their body, acute weakness of a leg, a complete loss of balance, or confusion. Some strokes, in certain areas of the brain, may produce no obvious symptoms – only sophisticated brain imaging or other procedures can identify them.

Timely stroke recognition and treatment by a medical professional are essential: for every 15 minutes that goes by without treatment, patients have a smaller chance of complete functional recovery. The phrase “time is brain” emphasizes that human nervous tissue is rapidly lost as stroke progresses Recent advances in technology permit calculation of just how much brain is lost per unit time in acute ischemic stroke which unfortunately is huge. To summarize, one needs to pay heed to stoke signs and symptoms and call for immediate help within the golden hour so as to prevent the functional loss causing permanent physical disabilities, mental disabilities and death.

Author : Dr. Ambili Aravind

Associate professor, Department of Kayachikitsa