doctor examining a brain scan on a computer screen

Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a stroke, which can cause lasting brain damage, long-term disability and even death, according to the CDC. May is Stroke Awareness Month, and in addition to knowing the risk factors for stroke, experts say spotting signs and symptoms could help save someone’s life.

“When someone is having a stroke, every minute counts,” says Dr. Robert Magill, associate chief medical officer at Parkridge Medical Center and Parkridge East Hospital. “We encourage people who may be suffering from a stroke to not delay and immediately call 911. Our emergency rooms are equipped with treatments that, when given quickly, can lessen brain damage.”

The acronym BE FAST is an easy way to remember the signs and symptoms of a stroke. Dr. Magill emphasizes that stroke symptoms come on suddenly, and not all symptoms may be present.

B – Balance – Sudden loss of balance

E – Eyes – Sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes


F – Face – Sudden facial droop or uneven smile

A – Arms – Sudden numbness or weakness in one arm

S – Speech – Sudden difficulty speaking/understanding, slurred speech

T – Time – If you see any of these sudden signs, it’s time to call 911

Strokes can happen at any age, but certain health conditions can increase your risk for stroke, like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. Dr. Magill says maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, not smoking and limiting alcohol are ways to help prevent stroke.

Parkridge Health has a network of emergency rooms across the Tennessee Valley equipped with imaging equipment and technology to help detect and begin treatment for strokes quickly. Don’t delay, call 911 if you think you or someone you know may be having a stroke.

May 2, 2022
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