The Importance of Recognizing Stroke Symptoms And Acting F.A.S.T

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

Strokes are no joke. In fact, it’s the fifth largest cause of death in the United States. Strokes happen when the flow of blood to the brain is obstructed by either a clot or burst. Blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the brain, and when blood can’t reach the brain it begins to die. This can result in death or varying degrees of disabilities.

Anyone can have a stroke, but anyone can be a stroke hero and save a life.  My friend Mike is a personal trainer.  He was working with an older gentleman when his client began to feel strange and collapsed in Mike’s arms.  There were doctors at the gym and they tried to save him, but the man had a stroke and it was fatal.  In that case, there was nothing anyone could’ve done.

My awesome friend Mike who couldn't do anything for his client.

My awesome friend Mike who couldn’t do anything for his client.

But many times, a stroke doesn’t have to be deadly. Like my friend Carlos.  He had a heart attack at 34. His family has a history of heart conditions.  One day, at 37, he was with his girlfriend when his face became paralyzed and he could not move one side of his body.  He was not in distress, nor unconscious. The woman, recognizing something was terribly wrong immediately called 9-1-1. He made it to the hospital in time to be administered an indispensable medicine which only works if given within a certain time frame after the stroke. That woman saved Carlos’ life, and his family is eternally grateful.

Carlos and his sons.

Carlos and his sons.

However, I wasn’t able to gather all this information from him. Carlos survived the stroke, but part of his brain died. There are certain things he can’t do as he suffers from aphasia and apraxia, which limit his ability to communicate.  For him, there is a disconnect between words and what they mean.  So for example, he can say “8” but doesn’t understand what it means … that there are eight of something. I’m not a doctor, but Carlos’ sister Tonya, was the one who put the pieces of his story together as I couldn’t understand some of what he was trying to tell me.

My friend Tonya, with her dad and brothers.

My friend Tonya, with her dad and brothers.

But you know what?  When Carlos turned 39, he ran the Miami Marathon. And he is alive and able to run a marathon because his girlfriend was a stroke hero.  These are individuals who understand the symptoms of a stroke and can act quickly, making a difference between life and death or the degree of disability.

Carlos completed the marathon within a few minutes of me!

Carlos completed the marathon within a few minutes of me!

So here’s how to be a Stroke Hero. Remember F.A.S.T.

F = Face drooping

A = Arm weakness

S = Speech difficulty

T = Time to call 9-1-1

Only 8% of us can identify each letter in the F.A.S.T. acronym.  That means most people cannot recognize the signs of a stroke and stroke patients may not get the help they need in time to have, like Carlos, a positive outcome.  That is why May is American Stroke Month and the American Heart Association wants all of us to learn how to spot F.A.S.T.  ANYONE can have a stroke, ANYWHERE at ANYTIME.  If it happens, wouldn’t you rather be a Stroke Hero and know what to do?

Here are some links for you to learn more:

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

Join other stroke heroes who have the free “Spot A Stroke F.A.S.T” app

Visit for additional information and resources

signs of stroke

Join the Twitter Party on May 13th at 3:00PM EST with the hashtag #HeroHour

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!

See you there!




One thought on “The Importance of Recognizing Stroke Symptoms And Acting F.A.S.T

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your story. This is a great reminder of how important it is to be able to spot the signs of a stroke so that you could possibly save a life one day.

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