BE-FAST

Use the BE-FAST acronym to remember stroke warning signs. If you notice or experience any of these symptoms, call 911 immediately.

Signs & Symptoms

On average, every four minutes someone dies of stroke. When a stroke occurs, part of the brain cannot get the blood (and oxygen) it needs, so it begins to die. Brain function, future abilities and life itself are threatened every minute a stroke goes untreated. Every minute the brain is without oxygen, 2 million brain cells die.

If you experience any of the signs or symptoms of a stroke listed below, don't take chances. Call 911.

B  - Balance difficulty: Sudden loss of balance or coordination, weakness or dizziness

E  - Eye changes: Sudden onset of vision changes in one or both eyes

F  - Face drooping: Sudden onset of facial drooping, usually on one side

A  - Arm weakness: Sudden weakness or numbness in the arm, leg or face, usually on one side of the body

S  - Slurred speech: Sudden onset of trouble speaking or difficulty in understanding speech

T  - Terrible headache: Sudden onset on severe headache with no known cause

Women may report unique stroke symptoms, including sudden:

  • face and limb pain
  • hiccups
  • nausea
  • general weakness
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • palpitations

Clot Retrieval Stroke Video

Our specially trained team is ready to provide prompt access to the highest level of stroke treatment in the region. Treatments include a clot-busting medicine that is administered intravenously and a clot-retrieval procedure.

Clot-retrieval is a procedure that can break-up a clot and remove it from the brain after the onset of stroke symptoms. When IV clot busting agents are not effective or cannot be used, clot retrieval procedures help to save as many brain cells as possible by removing the blockage in the artery. HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital is the only facility in the area to offer this state-of-the-art procedure. As a Certified Primary Stroke Center, the hospital has also earned a Gold Performance Achievement Award from the American Stroke Association.

Risk Factors

Stroke can be caused by:

  • a clot obstructing blood flow to the brain (ischemic stroke)
  • a blood vessel rupturing and preventing blood flow to the brain (hemorrhagic stroke)
  • a temporary clot called a TIA (transient ischemic attack), or “mini stroke.”

Many of the risk factors for stroke can be divided into two categories: those you can’t change and those you can. Certain health conditions, such as diabetes, atrial fibrillation, carotid artery disease and peripheral vascular disease, can also increase your risk. If your health care provider has already identified that you have any of these risk factors, it is very important to create a plan to help reduce your risk of stroke.

What Can You Do To Prevent Stroke?


The risk factors for stroke can be divided into two categories: those you can’t change and those you can.

What you can’t control

  • Age—your chances of stroke go up as you age.
  • Gender—men have a slightly higher risk than women.
  • Race—African American, Hispanic, Asian and Native American people are at higher risk for stroke.
  • Family history—if an immediate family member has had a stroke, your risk increases.

What you can control 

  • Keeping your blood pressure and cholesterol under control. Having high blood pressure (hypertension) and abnormal cholesterol can increase your risk for stroke.
  • Reducing stress
  • Keeping your weight in control
  • Reducing the amount of salt and fat in your diet
  • Exercising more
  • Quitting smoking
  • Limiting alcohol and illegal drug use

Upcoming Stroke Center Events & Classes

Stroke support group

The monthly Eau Claire Area Stroke Support Group offers an opportunity to connect with others who have experienced stroke.