SOURCE: Heart and Stroke Foundation

Heart and Stroke Foundation

April 14, 2015 00:01 ET

Act "FAST," Because the Quicker You Act, the More of the Person You Save

Because Stroke Is the Third Leading Cause of Death in the Country, the Heart and Stroke Foundation Urges Quebecers to Recognize the Signs

MONTREAL, QC--(Marketwired - April 14, 2015) - The Heart and Stroke Foundation (the "Foundation"), Québec, today launches a new provincial campaign to raise awareness of the signs of stroke based on FAST, a simple and effective educational approach that is being used in many countries with success. Ability to recognize the signs of stroke and take quick action can mean the difference between life and death, or between a full recovery and lasting disability.

Not enough people recognize the signs of stroke and know what to do, considering the urgency to act promptly. In Québec, only one in two adults recognizes signs of stroke, and this proportion falls dramatically for young adults from 18 to 34 years old, according to an Omnibus survey conducted last fall. Stroke is the third leading cause of death in the country, and a leading cause of severe disability. There are an estimated 62,000 strokes in Canada each year; that is one every nine minutes. Therefore, the Foundation urges Quebecers to learn the signs of stroke and act FAST to increase the chances of recovery of as many stroke victims as possible.

Laval resident Julie Rivard, who had a stroke at 38, knows too well the importance of recognizing the signs of stroke. In summer 2009, she had a stroke while relaxing under the sun with her husband and three children. Luckily, she recognized the signs of stroke and acted FAST.

"At first, my husband thought I was having fun imitating a cartoon character. When he looked closer, he realized something was wrong. My face was drooping, my speech wasn't clear and my right side was paralyzed. I immediately recognized the signs of stroke and urged my husband to call 9-1-1. I was panicked. I thought to myself 'This cannot be happening. I'm only 38 years old!' Yet, it was real," said Julie.

Trained nurse, Julie knew she only had four hours and a half after the symptoms appeared to be eligible for tPA, a clot buster. "At the hospital, after the treatment, we celebrated every hour with a kiss, until the critical moment was behind us. Five years later, the battle still isn't over, but the biggest part is behind us. I decided to have a healthier lifestyle and I'm now a black belt in karate! There is life after stroke, but it is critical to act FAST. If I hadn't done so, maybe my life would be very different today," added Julie.

Although stroke is most common in people over the age of 70, the Foundation's 2014 Stroke Report reveals an alarming escalation in the incidence of stroke among those under 70. Over the past decade, strokes in people in their 50s have increased by 24 per cent and for those in their 60s, by 13 per cent. Even more alarming, recent international studies predict that stroke rates among younger people (ages 24-64) will double in the next 15 years.

"Brain cells die at a rate of two million per minute after stroke, so the sooner normal blood flow can be restored, the greater the likelihood of a good outcome. There is a saying that 'time is brain' or, put another way, that 'time lost is brain lost,'" says Francine Forget Marin, Director, Health promotion and Research, Québec, at the Foundation. "Our objective is to ensure that all Quebecers, no matter where they live or how old they are, learn and remember the signs of stroke with the FAST approach. The faster you can get to the right hospital when experiencing stroke, the better your chances of survival and recovery with little or no disability," she adds.

The Foundation urges Quebecers to learn the signs of stroke and relay the information to their loved ones, by sharing, for example, the FAST acronym, sending the hyperlinks to the videos of the campaign, posting the signs in their businesses or at home, or by talking about the importance of learning the signs. Stroke doesn't make any discrimination in terms of age, gender or ethnicity. It could afflict your father, your neighbor, your aunt or a stranger on the street. The Foundation therefor relies on the Quebecers' cooperation to share this message of public interest at as many people as possible and to be ambassadors of the FAST campaign in order to have a tangible impact on people's health.

For more information, please go to:

Tools to help the Foundation share the signs of stroke.

About the Heart and Stroke Foundation
The Heart and Stroke Foundation's mission is to prevent disease, save lives and promote recovery. A volunteer-based health charity, we strive to tangibly improve the health of every Canadian family, every day. 'Healthy lives free of heart disease and stroke. Together we will make it happen.'


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Contact Information

  • For more information:
    Maryse Begin
    Manager, Communications Quebec
    Heart and Stroke Foundation
    514-871-8038 ext. 232