GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Doctors say it’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

This National Stroke Awareness Month, health professionals are reminding people of the ‘BE FAST’ acronym.

“That’s the acronym that we use in order for any person, including children, to identify stroke symptoms of their relatives or loved ones,” said Dr. Augusto Elias, the medical director of neurointerventional surgery and comprehensive stroke center at UM Health-West.

The first five letters in the BE FAST acronym stands for balance, eyes, face, arms and speech. Warnings signs of a stroke can include a sudden loss of balance or coordination, vision changes or vision loss, drooping or numbness in one side of the face, weakness or numbness in one arm or leg, and difficulty speaking or understanding speech.

The T in BE FAST stands for time, meaning if someone has any of those symptoms, its time to immediately call 911.

“We always want to emphasize that responding EMS services is the fastest way to take your relative, loved one to the hospital,” Elias said.

He said there’s two types of strokes. The most common is an ischemic stroke, which happens when a clot blocks a blood vessel connected to the brain. The other type of stroke is a hemorrhagic stroke, which happens when a blood vessel in the brain ruptures.

Strokes can be prevented with a balanced diet, moderate use of alcohol, no tobacco use, blood pressure control and moderate exercise, Elias said.

— Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Dr. Augusto Elias’ name. We regret the error, which has been fixed.