Billings Clinic


BE FAST to be ready if a stroke happens

Posted at 3:37 PM, May 20, 2021

Strokes can happen quickly and unexpectedly. Every year, about 800,000 people in the United States experience a stroke, and they are responsible for about 1 in 19 deaths annually. Stroke is the leading cause of disabilities.

Sometimes called a “brain attack,” a stroke happens either when the blood supply to the brain is blocked (ischemic stroke) or when a blood vessel in the brain bursts (hemorrhagic). Either way, it causes brain tissue to die and can result in disability, brain damage or death. While there are some contributing factors – age, sex and ethnicity – that are beyond our control, an estimated 80% of strokes are preventable.

Habits and lifestyle choices can make a big difference when it comes to prevention and things like smoking, drinking too much alcohol and not getting enough exercise can increase stroke risk. Additionally, making sure you are managing your blood pressure and cholesterol levels can greatly reduce risk.

But, in the event a stroke happens, knowing what to recognize and acting quickly can make all the difference. The simple BE FAST method can help:

· Balance loss – Loss of balance or coordination, and headache or dizziness.

· Eyes blurred – Trouble seeing in both eyes, with blackened, blurred or double vision.

· Face drooping – One side of the face is drooping or numb.

· Arm weakness – Weakness in the arm, leg or face, especially on one side of the body.

· Speech difficulty – Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.

· Time to call 911 – Every second counts. If somebody shows any of these sings, call 911 immediately.

Acting quickly when a stroke happens can save lives. This could involve emergency care in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, time in the Emergency Department, additional hospital care, treatment to prevent another stroke and rehabilitation.

Billings Clinic has created a team to transform how it treats stroke patients that is continually advancing stroke treatment and has been certified as a Primary Stroke Center since 2005. We are presently DNV certified.

Working closely with teams across the hospital, including the Emergency Department and Cardiology, the Billings Clinic Neurohospitalist team is dedicated to providing and improving inpatient stroke and neurologic care. The Neurohospitalist service offers 24-hour on-site availability for urgent evaluations and administration of time-sensitive therapies.

Physicians, providers and a support team members care for hospitalized patients with, or at risk for, neurological disorders and disease such as stroke. In many cases, the team can have life-saving treatment and medication administered to stroke patients in 30 minutes or less from when a patient comes through the hospital doors.

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, and that makes it the perfect time to memorize the BE FAST method and learn more about the stroke care and treatment services at Billings Clinic so that, if a stroke suddenly strikes, you are ready and know what to expect.

For more information on Billings Clinic’s stroke services, call 406-238-2500 or visit