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Think F.A.S.T.: Are you among majority of Americans who don’t know warning signs of stroke?

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Posted at 3:03 PM, May 06, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-06 17:36:29-04

SALT LAKE CITY – The vast majority of Americans are reportedly unable to identify all of the letters in the acronym “F.A.S.T.” when it comes to spotting the warning signs of a stroke, and an event held Wednesday aims to raise awareness and promote a digital app that helps people be ready to act should a stroke occur.

According to a press release from event organizers, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association teamed up with University of Utah Health Care and the effort “Together To End Stroke” for an awareness event Wednesday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in front of City Creek Center, where they gave out free Subway sandwiches and information about strokes.

May is American Stroke Month, and Wednesday’s event was part of the larger effort to make more people aware of the warning signs, which are detailed by the acronym F.A.S.T. The  press release states a recent poll found 92 percent of Americans cannot identify all of the letters in the acronym F.A.S.T., which are listed below.

F – Face Drooping: Does one side of the face droop or is it numb? Ask the person to smile.
A – Arm Weakness: Is one arm weak or numb? Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?
S – Speech Difficulty: Is speech slurred, are they unable to speak, or are they hard to understand? Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence like, “The sky is blue.” Is the sentence repeated correctly?
T – Time to call 911: If the person shows any of these symptoms, even if the symptoms go away, call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

The release states that other stroke signs include: “Sudden severe headache with no known cause; sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; or sudden confusion or trouble understanding.”

Jennifer Majersik said people need to be ready to spot those signs. Majersik is an M.D., M.S., and the Stroke Director for the Clinical Neurosciences Center at the University of Utah Neurology, and she is also member of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Utah Division Board of Directors.

“Anyone can have a stroke and everyone should be ready,” she stated in the press release.

The press release states stroke is the leading cause of long-term disability and the nation’s No. 5 leading cause of death.

“Learning how to spot a stroke is just as important as teaching your family CPR or what to do in the event of a fire,” Majersik stated in the press release. “With stroke — just like a cardiac arrest or a fire — seconds count.”

Experts encourage people to download the free Spot a Stroke F.A.S.T. app for iOS and Android devices, and the app offers a warning sign quiz, a high blood pressure chart and a map of nearby hospitals recognized by the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. The app is available in English and Spanish, and is available along with other information and resources at the American Stroke Association’s website.