B.E.F.A.S.T. When it Comes to Stroke Symptoms

Erika Marulanda, M.D., M.S., is a neurologist in the Stroke Division at UHealth, the University of Miami Health System. For information on stroke services and treatment click here or visit the UHealth Collective.


Jennifer Bryant was working her hospital shift when she suddenly lost grip strength in her left hand.

“When I looked down at my hand, I also noticed it had a mild, mild tremor,” says Jennifer.

The nurse anesthetist walked straight to the E.R., where UHealth neurologist Erika Marulanda, M.D., M.S., quickly treated her for stroke.

“Stroke is really time sensitive, because every second that you don’t have blood going to that area of the brain, either because of bleeding or because of a blockage, those neurons aren’t getting blood, they’re not getting oxygen,” Dr. Marulanda says.

With stroke, unlike heart attack, there usually isn’t any pain. That’s why if you’re experiencing stroke-like symptoms, it is critical to get into care as quickly as possible, and to remember the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T.

B is for balance, if you lose your balance out of nowhere. E is for eyes, so double vision, loss of vision or symptoms. F is for face, so a droopy face would be a symptom. A for weakness in your arm. S for speech. So, slurred speech, loss of speech or inability to understand. Then T is for time to remind you that time is brain and it’s time to call 911,” says Dr. Marulanda.

Jennifer, whose stroke was caused by three congenital heart defects, received clot-busting medication right away.

“Because of the early intervention, I have no neurological defects at all,” Jennifer says.

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Jennifer is back to her active lifestyle – even running in the New York marathon. Her message: Don’t ignore symptoms, it could save your life.

“That team here at University of Miami. That’s why I’m here,” says Jennifer.


Focusing on You: Innovations in Modern Medicine is a series of healthcare-related stories airing regularly on WPLG Local 10. For more stories like this one, visit YouTube channels for UHealth, the University of Miami Health System.

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