Holy Name Medical Center Blog

BE-FAST in Seeking Help with Stroke Symptoms

Posted by Marissa Brown, MSN, RN-BC, SCRN
Stroke Program Coordinator
Holy Name Medical Center on May 24, 2021
Marissa Brown, MSN, RN-BC, SCRN

Holy Name Medical Center was one of the first hospitals in New Jersey to earn The Joint Commission’s Primary Stroke Center designation, thanks, in part, to our advanced technology. We’ve continued to build on that distinction.

Time is critical in treating stroke, and in 2020 Holy Name purchased sophisticated software that provides information that potentially allows for more time to intervene with treatment. With CT perfusion software we can more accurately interpret imaging to see which areas of the brain are adequately supplied with blood and might still be salvaged.

Anatomy of a Stroke

A stroke stops blood flow to the brain, either when a blood vessel is obstructed by a clot or it ruptures. Clot-busting medications can be used within three to four and one-half hours of the onset of stroke symptoms, and mechanical measures to clear blockages are generally used within eight hours or so.

CT perfusion technology can sometimes help us get a clearer picture of the stroke and the areas of the brain that are affected, potentially lengthening the window of time for intervention to 24 hours after a stroke. The technology helps us to better determine which patients may benefit from mechanical thrombectomy – a minimally invasive procedure that uses fluoroscopy, or continuous X-rays, to guide a neurosurgeon in threading a catheter to the exact location of the blockage. The neurosurgeon then uses special instruments to remove the clot.



Time is always of the essence in treating stroke. Immediate medical attention can also reduce any long-lasting impairment.

Seek medical attention immediately if someone shows any of the symptoms identified by the acronym BE-FAST:

B    Balance — Is there a sudden loss of balance or coordination? Is there a problem with walking?
E      Eyes — Is there a sudden loss of vision in one or both eyes? Is there new blurred or double vision?
F      Face drooping — Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile and notice if the smile is uneven.
A      Arm weakness — Is one arm weak or numb? Can the individual raise both arms? Does one drift downward? Are the legs weak?
S      Speech difficulty — Is speech slurred or hard to understand? Can the person repeat a simple sentence?
T      Time to call 9-1-1. If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if they abate, get him/her to the hospital immediately. Note the time the symptoms first appeared.

Beyond BE-FAST: Sudden headaches, often accompanied by vomiting and dizziness, may also be signs of stroke.

Stroke Treatment at Holy Name

Our Primary Stroke Center’s designation from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association as Gold Plus means patients can be connected via teleneurology video with a stroke management physician specialist 24/7. Our acute stroke team uses a standard diagnostic protocol of tests that begins when the patient arrives at our Emergency Department. Each patient is evaluated by a multidisciplinary team.

Many stroke patients recover with rehabilitation, including occupational, speech, or physical therapy. Our post-stroke follow-up program sees patients within 30 days of discharge via telemedicine appointments with nurse practitioner Cheryl Pachella of our neurology clinic. This kind of monitoring and follow-up can help prevent the incidence of secondary stroke. We also offer virtual stroke survivor support groups.

Quick medical action at the time of stroke, combined with proper treatment and follow-up care can help mitigate long-lasting effects. At Holy Name, we’re here to help.

For more information about the Primary Stroke Center at Holy Name Medical Center call 201-833-7053 or visit holyname.org/strokecenter