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May 15th, 2013

Knowing F.A.S.T. stroke symptoms saves lives

Do you know the signs of a stroke? Unfortunately, too many people miss the signs of stroke and victims go without medical attention for hours - sometimes days - after suffering a stroke. That’s why the American Stroke Association (ASA), a division of the American Heart Association, is urging everyone to learn the warning signs of stroke during May, American Stroke Awareness Month.

On average, every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke and every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke. Together To End Stroke is the ASA’s national initiative to educate the public about stroke symptoms and facts, including how stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable.

Only about two out of three Americans can correctly identify at least one sign of stroke. According to new research in an American Heart Association journal, more than a third of stroke patients don’t go to the hospital via ambulance. Together to End Stroke is helping Americans recognize the stroke warning signs that come on suddenly through a quick and easy acronym called, F.A.S.T:

F.A.S.T. is a simple way to remember some of the warning signs of a stroke and the importance of getting medical help immediately.

F - Face Drooping

A - Arm Weakness

S - Speech Difficulty

T - Time to Call 9-1-1

"We don’t talk enough about stroke. More people need to know the signs and act quickly when they recognize it," said Jason Greenberg, MD, Director of Stroke Rehabilitation at Helen Hayes Hospital and American Heart Association Board Member, "Stroke doesn’t have to mean death or disability. Quick recognition and action by bystanders to get the victim medical treatment will reduce chances for long term damage. A victim may have one or all of the signs. It’s important to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible."

Beverly Paige of Pomona survived a stroke when she was only 52 years old. She fell while getting out of the car at a family event then couldn’t stand up. Her speech was slurred and confused. Her nephew had just studied stroke in his high school health class and recognized the symptoms. Her family got her emergency care and it saved her life, and her brain cells from permanent damage.

With rehab, she regained the use of her right side arms and legs and speech. She received her Bachelor’s degree - with honors- and is working on her Master’s in Public Administration. She is a volunteer spokesperson for the AHA’s Power to End Stroke campaign. As a stroke survivor, speaking out has special meaning for her.

"I did not know I was having a stroke. I could not speak. I could not help myself. My nephew knew and saved my life. We need to learn the signs and act quickly to help our loved ones. He helped me not just survive but thrive," she said.

Although stroke is our nation’s No. 4 leading cause of death and leading cause of long term disability, research suggests that nearly 80% of strokes may be prevented if certain risk factors are controlled, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and physical inactivity.

The AHA offers a free online health assessment called My Life Check that can help identify personal risk for heart disease and stroke. To learn more about how to reduce sodium in your diet - a leading cause of high blood pressure which can lead to stroke, visit

Together to End Stroke is nationally sponsored by Covidien. For more information about stroke, warning signs or healthy lifestyle, call the American Stroke Association at 1-888-4STROKE or visit

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