March 11, 2019
Do You Know The Signs Of A Stroke? Luke Perry's Death Drives Public Awareness

Do you know how to tell if you or someone nearby is having a stroke?

In the wake of the death of actor Luke Perry, medical professionals and advocacy groups are using the tragedy to spread the potentially life-saving signs of a stroke, News8000 reports.

Bethany Girtler is the stroke program coordinator for Gundersen Health System in La Crosse. Girtler makes it a point to share a useful acronym to help individuals remember the signs of a stroke and learn to recognize them if they ever see it unfold in person.

The acronym, B.E. F.A.S.T refers to Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech, and Time. And it could help save your life or the life of someone around you. Girtler points out that it is important to recognize the signs of a stroke as quickly as possible, because calling 911 quickly can mean the difference between life and death in such an emergency.

During a stroke, a lack of blood to the brain can quickly cause brain damage, meaning that every second counts when it comes to getting help.

"It can't store the oxygen and the glucose that it needs to survive," she said. "When that blood flow stops to that brain tissue, it's going to start to die immediately because it's not getting what it needs. So, every second actually counts when someone is having a stroke."

Here's what the acronym means in more detail, according to Girtler.


Evaluate the suspected stroke victim's balance by seeing if they can walk normally.


Check their eyes by asking if they have blurry vision or loss of vision altogether.


Ask them to smile. If one side of the face is drooping or otherwise uneven, it could be a sign of stroke.

Arms (or legs)

Evaluate for tingling or numbness in the extremities, which could manifest in legs as well as arms.


Listen for muddled speech or slurred words.


It is critical to call 911 immediately if you think someone is having a stroke.

In addition, an alternative "T" word is often considered to be "Terrible," referring to a headache. A piercing headache can also accompany one or more of the symptoms above.

The importance of education and awareness around signs of a stroke has been highlighted recently following Luke Perry's death at the relatively young age of 52. The actor, who starred in "Beverly Hills, 90210" and, more recently, "Riverdale," died after suffering a massive stroke.