How To Identify The Signs of Stroke: Are You FAST Enough?

How To Identify The Signs of Stroke: Are You FAST Enough?

Signs of Stroke

Identifying The Signs of Stroke: Are You FAST Enough?

The established method to identify the signs of stroke has been to apply the FAST acronym.  The Stroke Foundation (Australia) and The American Heart Association have championed the acronym: FAST as the formula to help lay people identity the signs of stroke.

How To Identify The Signs of Stroke

FAST is short for Face, Arm, Speech and Time –  time being a prompt not to waste it and to seek help and assessment immediately. The time to be seen can be the difference between lasting and disabling effects of a stroke.

According to new research by University of Kentucky FAST may not be enough.  Not that FAST is insufficient, more so that it does not appear to capture comprehensively the signs of stroke.

However, a study published in a recent issue of Stroke and authored by Dr Susanth Aroor a resident physician at the University of Kentucky may offer  a new advancement in how first respondents look for the signs of stroke.

You see the idea originated from investigating how many strokes were initially missed because the FAS(T) mnemonic didn’t apply to them.  According to the study 14% of people with a stroke did not have FAS (T) symptoms.   Non-FAS patients were observed to experience two prevalent signs of stroke;

  • problems with balance or gait (42%)
  • sudden onset of visual problems (40%)

This has led to the modification to the acronym to BE- FAST.

B for balance and E for eyes. In the video below Dr Susanth Aroor discusses the key findings of the study.

Summing Up- Identifying the Sings of Stroke

This is early work and will likely be fine tuned in years to come though the question the University of Kentucky team has raised is are we aware of the signs of stroke and does the current method support comprehensive identification? FAST is good, though BE-FAST appears to offer a better net to catch most signs of stroke.


  • Sushanth Aroor, Rajpreet Singh, Larry B. Goldstein. BE-FAST (Balance, Eyes, Face, Arm, Speech, Time). Stroke, 2017; 48 (2): 479 DOI: 10.1161/STROKEAHA.116.015169


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