Munson Minutes: How to Spot Stroke Symptoms


In this episode of Munson Minutes, Gary Rajah, MD, Neurosurgeon and Director of Munson Healthcare’s Endovascular Stroke Program, breaks down the main types of stroke and how to recognize symptoms using the BE FAST acronym.

Are you at risk for stroke? Talk to your family doctor about your lifestyle and family history. You can also take our online stroke health evaluator at

BE FAST: Your Guide to Spotting Stroke Symptoms


Hey northern Michigan, it’s Kevin here with the Munson Minutes.

Today we’re here at Munson Medical Center’s interventional radiology suite in Traverse City with Dr. Gary Rajah.

Dr. Rajah, we thought it would be a good idea to give northern Michigan a primer on what a stroke is, what signs and symptoms to look for if you suspect someone is having a stroke, and what to do next.

Sound good?

Gary Rajah, MD, Neurosurgeon and Director of Munson Healthcare’s Endovascular Stroke Program (Dr. Rajah)

Sounds good.

Stroke is a condition where one of two things happen:

  • In an ischemic stroke there’s a lack of blood flow to a portion of the brain. That’s due to a blockage of an artery going to the brain itself. It can be in the neck or it can be in the head.
  • The second type of stroke is called a hemorrhagic stroke. That’s when there’s a bleed or a hemorrhage within the brain tissue itself or in the area surrounding the brain. That is referred to as a hemorrhagic stroke.

The treatments are different. In an ischemic stroke, our goal is to pull the blood clot out of the blood vessel and restore flow to the brain. In a hemorrhagic stroke we want to stop the bleeding and prevent it from happening again.

There's a useful acronym that can be used to remember the signs of a stroke called BE FAST.

  • B is for balance. If you or a loved one is feeling wobbly or off balance, falling to one side, that can be a sign of a stroke. The patient should immediately seek medical attention.
  • E is for eyes. If you’re having loss of vision in one eye or both, or having double vision when you look one side to the other, that can be another sign of stroke and should immediately be addressed by a medical provider.
  • F is for face. This is a very common sign that most people are familiar with – the drooping of the face on one side or the other.
  • A is for arms. Sometimes patients will notice one arm doesn’t move. They could even wake up and notice that one arm’s not moving. They should immediately go to the emergency room.
  • S is for speech. This can mean many things. It can mean someone who cannot understand speech, someone who cannot talk, or someone whose speech has gotten worse. Their speech can sound garbled or even slightly intoxicated. That's another sign that a stroke could be happening.
  • T is for time. A reminder that time is critical. You need to get to the emergency room immediately. The quicker you get there, the quicker we can help.


Dr. Rajah, thanks for being here with us.

Dr. Rajah

It's my pleasure.


BE FAST. Learn the acronym. Know the signs and symptoms of a stroke. It could help save a life.

That’s it for Munson Minutes. We’ll see you next time.