How to act F.A.S.T. and become a Stroke Hero

Become a

Become a stroke hero F.A.S.T. Shutterstock photo.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored by the American Heart Association for American Stroke Month, but all opinions are my own.

May is American Stroke Month and the American Stroke Association invites you to become a Stroke Hero. How can you do this? By being prepared and learning how to recognize the symptoms of a stroke and call 911 immediately.

I have a story. Two years ago, as I drove back from a sunny hike on a beautiful California Spring day, I received a phone call that froze my heart. It was a friend calling for help. Joe, her 36-year-old husband. had just suffered a massive stroke.

How could this even happen at such a young age, I thought. He was a dad, a hiker, a runner, a healthy and conscious eater. That day they had been hiking with their 3 and 4 year-old children. At the end of the hike Joe fell to the ground, seemingly unconscious, but his eyes were open. He was paralyzed and unable to speak. As fast as his wife could, she called 9-1-1. Since the area was far from a hospital and the symptoms pointed to stroke, he was airlifted to Stanford Medical Center where he was diagnosed and treated immediately.

The American Stroke Association´s national campaign in May to increase stroke awareness urges people to spot and respond to stroke with the acronym F.A.S.T.

  •        Face drooping.
  •        Arm weakness.
  •        Speech difficulty.
  •        Time to call 9-1-1.

Thankfully, because his family acted F.A.S.T., Joe is still alive. After two years of intense physical therapy, he is walking again, although with help. He can work from home and is not yet ready to drive, but hopefully in time that will come too. In his case, the fact that his wife recognized stroke symptoms made the difference between life and death. You too can become a Stroke Hero by learning what to watch out for by learning what F.A.S.T. means and what to do.

What is a Stroke Hero?

  • A Stroke Hero knows what the acronym F.A.S.T. stands for (Face drooping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty and Time to call 9-1-1) and can recognize a stroke and act quickly by calling 9-1-1.
  • During a stroke emergency, a Stroke Hero is the one who can help make the difference between life and death or full recovery and permanent disability.
  • It’s the hero we all want to be, proudly saving lives and quality of life. The hero we all want around us, always ready to help if need be.

Learn F.A.S.T. to become THAT hero
The American Stroke Association, through its Together to End Stroke initiative sponsored by Medtronic, teach the acronym F.A.S.T. as an easy way to recognize the most common stroke warning signs and what to do if you suspect someone is having a stroke. As mentioned above if someone had (F)ace drooping, (A)rm weakness, or (S)peech difficulty, it’s (T)ime to call 9-1-1. Everyone needs to know the signs because the person who is having them probably can’t either recognize the symptoms or call 9-1-1.

Only 8 percent of people can identify each letter in the F.A.S.T. acronym, which means that few would be able to recognize a stroke and stroke patients would not be able to get the speedy care they need in time for a positive outcome. Another alarming stat is that Hispanic women are less likely than others to know the warning signs of a stroke.

Calling 9-1-1 at the first sign of stroke gives someone a greater chance of getting to an appropriate hospital quickly and being assessed for treatment options like a clot-busting drug and medical devices that may make a remarkable difference in their recovery.

Please join other Stroke Heroes who have the free “Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T.” app at My friend may have had a better outcome if the call had been made earlier.

Do you know F.A.S.T.? Take the quiz at in English or Spanish.

Yes, it could happen to your best friend, family member or yourself. Being informed can make a big difference, always. Anyone can have a stroke – everyone should be ready.

Join our #HeroHour on Twitter

In order to raise awareness, I am joining the Twitter event #HeroHour on May 13 at 3pm EST. Make sure to RSVP on Facebook.

Host: @American_Stroke

Moderator: @LorraineCLadish

Co-hosts: @VivaFifty @EileenCCampos @Triathlonmami @LauraLcbl

Giveaways: signed merchandise by Indiana Pacers basketball star (and Stroke Hero), Paul George, and gift cards to the American Heart Association’s exclusive online shop at!



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