Speaking F.A.S.T in any language

New F.A.S.T stroke awareness campaign launched in eight languages

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Stroke survivor Rocco with his wife Cecilia who recognised the signs of stroke in her husband. Prompt treatment led to recovery.

Stroke survivor Rocco with his wife Cecilia who recognised the signs of stroke in her husband. Prompt treatment led to recovery.

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When a stroke strikes the brain, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute, but treatment can stop this damage.

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Stroke doesn't care what language you speak - that's why the Stroke Foundation's latest campaign is targeting culturally and linguistically diverse communities delivering the life-saving F.A.S.T message in eight languages.

When a stroke strikes the brain, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute, but prompt treatment can stop this damage.

Rocco Giandomenico lives in rural central NSW. In 2015, the then 83-year-old Italian/Australian who loves gardening, had a type of stroke called a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).

Luckily, Cecilia, Rocco's wife of almost 60 years recognised the signs of stroke, and Rocco was rushed by ambulance to the nearest stroke unit at Tamworth Hospital where he made a good recovery.

Cecilia describes what happened: "Rocco and I were in the kitchen, when Rocco started speaking strangely and slurring his words.We live in central NSW and it was a very hot day, so we sat down to eat fresh watermelon that we picked from the garden. Rocco and I live on a five-hectare piece of land, with fruit trees and vegetable gardens, and we love to eat food that we've grown ourselves.

"As we sat Rocco kept touching his forehead and saying "where are the people" over and over, slurring his words. I knew that was a sign of a stroke, but that Rocco wouldn't go to the doctor or hospital without a push.

"When he went outside, I called the local hospital and described his symptoms. Because we live practically next door, they asked me to bring Rocco in directly - it was faster in our case than calling an ambulance. When we got to the local hospital, they tested Rocco's blood pressure, and it was extremely high. That combined with my description of his symptoms prompted the team to call an ambulance immediately to take him to the closest Stroke Unit which is at the Tamworth Hospital. I followed behind in my car.

"A brain scan concluded that Rocco had suffered a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or mini-stroke due to his high blood pressure. He is now on blood pressure medication and statins. Rocco has lost weight and we are more active than we were before.

"Rocco just built a shed, we think that helped.

"My advice is if you think anything is wrong, get to hospital. It can be hard if, like Rocco, your husband, parent or partner fights against getting help. Don't listen, call an ambulance triple zero (000) immediately. Rocco and I have three children and 13 grandchildren. It's a big relief he's still here."

The Stroke Foundation a new F.A.S.T. (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) signs of stroke awareness campaign will target eight language groups; Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi and Korean.

Stroke Foundation Executive Director Marketing John De Rango said the new campaign was an important step forward in taking public health messages to non-English speaking households.

"The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has highlighted the importance of accessible health information for all Australians,'' Mr De Rango said.

"We are a multicultural country, home to the world's oldest continuous cultures, as well as Australians who identify with more than 270 ancestries.

"Millions of Australians speak a language other than English at home and it is time public health messaging reflected this. We must do more to ensure language is not a barrier to health care."

A Stroke Foundation survey found 32 percent of households where languages other than English were spoken did not know a sign of stroke. This compared to 10 percent of English-speaking households not recognising one of the signs of stroke.

John De Rango said recognising the signs of stroke and getting to hospital quickly was vital to ensuring better stroke outcomes.

"When a stroke strikes the brain, it kills up to 1.9 million brain cells per minute, but treatment can stop this damage. Time saved in calling an ambulance and accessing treatment for stroke is brain saved.

"Stroke can strike anyone of any age, even babies and children can have strokes."

Stroke Foundation's in-language F.A.S.T. signs of stroke awareness campaign is part of a broader consumer awareness and education program funded by the Australian Government. It involves translated marketing materials across print, digital and radio as well as online and in-person community talks. In addition to targeting eight vulnerable language groups, Stroke Foundation will also deliver activities in vulnerable regional communities.

TheF.A.S.T. test is a simple way to learn and remember the signs of stroke:

Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

Arms: Can they lift both arms?

Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call triple zero (000) straight away.

For more visit www.strokefoundation.org.au

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