SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb., ? Throughout Stroke Awareness Month in May, Regional West encourages people to learn the signs, symptoms, and risk factors of stroke.

The American Stroke Association (ASA) states that a stroke occurs when a blood vessel that carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain is either blocked by a clot (ischemic stroke) or bursts (hemorrhagic stroke). A transient ischemic attack (TIA), or ‘mini-stroke,’ blocks blood flow to the brain for a short period of time. The brain is then deprived of the blood or oxygen it needs, leading to brain cell death. Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death and a leading cause of disability in the United States.

Regional West Stroke Program Coordinator Janelle Schroeder, RN, MSN, SCRN, said learning the warning signs of stroke can be lifesaving.

“It’s important to know that stroke is treatable if care is received as quickly as possible after the onset of symptoms,” she said. “Time is brain, meaning lost time equals lost brain cells. If you see the signs of stroke, call 911 immediately.” 

Stroke’s warning signs are represented by the acronym B.E.F.A.S.T., which stands for which stands for balance (loss of balance), eyes (loss of vision), face (facial drooping), arms (weakness or numbness in the arms), speech (slurred speech), and time (call 911 immediately). It’s also important to watch for sudden numbness or weakness in the face, arm, or leg, especially on one side; trouble seeing, walking, or speaking; severe headache; and confusion.

“The B.E.F.A.S.T. acronym is a simple tool that helps patients and their families know when they should seek emergency care,” said Justin Stubbs, MD, the medical director of Regional West’s Stroke Program. “Seeking immediate medical care when these symptoms present will allow for the best chance of recovery.”

Schroeder also emphasized the importance of knowing stroke’s risk factors, which include high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and atrial fibrillation. To further reduce the risk of stroke, people should take their medication as prescribed, exercise regularly, avoid or quit smoking, and limit alcohol intake.   

Regional West’s Stroke Program is designed to provide evidence-based primary stroke care, including evaluation, treatment, and education to patients who present or are transferred with signs and symptoms of stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA). Physicians, advanced practice providers, and nurses provide acute stroke care services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, in addition to skilled therapies provided by an interdisciplinary team Monday through Friday.

Regional West is certified as a Primary Stroke Center by the Joint Commission and the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Our Acute Rehabilitation Unit is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF), with special accreditation as a certified Stroke Specialty Program.

To learn more about Regional West’s Stroke Program, visit or call 308-630-1907.