“Give Me Five” for Stroke or “Act F.A.S.T.”??

May is National Stroke Awareness Month we can agree. Right? Especially this month I’ve found all public agencies seem to be trying to get their own “version” of their message out about recognizing the warning signs for stroke. This post is to clear up the confusion and help you decide which you like better.

My suggestion:

Regardless of the mnemonic you choose-simply KNOW-STROKE!

Here is what several agencies are arguing about:

(from Stroke.org) USE Act FAST

May is National Stroke Awareness Month, a time to educate the nation and spread awareness about stroke prevention, symptom recognition and recovery. In recent years stroke deaths have declined by 10,000 Americans. This year, National Stroke Association hopes to continue to reduce stroke deaths by educating the public to recognize stroke symptoms, and to Act F.A.S.T. and “Save a Life.”

  • For every minute that brain cells are deprived of oxygen during stroke, the likelihood of brain damage increases. Act F.A.S.T.
  • Treatment can be more effective if given early on. Act F.A.S.T.
  • TIA (transient ischemic attack) is a risk factor of stroke and a call to action to prevent a stroke. Act F.A.S.T.

For the six million stroke survivors in the United States, Acting F.A.S.T. is even more critical because they are at risk for a recurrent stroke. But stroke prevention is only one part of the stroke recovery journey. For stroke survivors, the other integral component is National Stroke Association’s message of HOPE: Stroke is a Lifelong Journey. Because hope is such an important part of a successful stroke recovery. Click here to download materials that will help survivors and caregivers on their road to recovery.

Stroke Symptoms:
If you have any stroke symptoms, seek immediate medical attention.

These include:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of face, arm or leg – especially on one side of the body.
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination.
  • Sudden severe headache with no known cause.

If you have experienced any of these symptoms, you may have had a TIA or mini-stroke. Ask your doctor if you can lower your risk for stroke by taking aspirin, or by other means.
If you think someone may be having a stroke, act F.A.S.T. and do this simple test:

Act F.A.S.T.

FACE Ask the person to smile.

Does one side of the face droop?

ARMS Ask the person to raise both arms.

Does one arm drift downward?

SPEECH Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence.

Are the words slurred? Can he/she repeat the sentence correctly?

TIME If the person shows any of these symptoms, time is important.

Call 911 or get to the hospital fast. Brain cells are dying.

This is from the Stroke Collaborative

and why they prefer “Give Me Five”

(Source http://www.giveme5forstroke.org/healthcare/)

Strengthening the Stroke Team

Stroke is the #3 killer of Americans. However, with more prompt treatment, thousands of Americans may be saved or recover more fully, to return to normal life. Our goal is to reduce the deaths and disabilities due to stroke by ensuring that healthcare providers have the tools needed to quickly recognize and diagnose a stroke for treatment.

In addition to the work AAN, ACEP, and ASA are individually leading to advance stroke recognition and care, they formed The Stroke Collaborative to bring together emergency physicians and neurologists, leaders in the Acute Stroke Team, to ensure every hospital has the team and the resources available to provide the optimal care.

Why is the Stroke Collaborative Presenting a New Way to Remember the Warning Signs?
Other acronyms and devices are not inclusive of all stroke symptoms. All three of our organizations are members of the Brain Attack Coalition (BAC) and we all support an education program focusing on the “Sudden” signs of a stroke. The “Suddens” campaign is inclusive of all the warning signs (captures 100 percent of stroke symptoms) but it may be difficult to remember for the average consumer. Over the past few years, an alternative message, “FAST”, has surfaced but it is not a message our organizations and the BAC support. Stroke warning signs are missing from “FAST” and since a person may only experience one symptom, it is important that all symptoms be remembered and acted upon quickly.

Why was “Give Me 5 for Stroke” Chosen?
To find a suitable alternative, the Stroke Collaborative wanted create a campaign and public message that is memorable and includes all the important stroke warning signs. We tested a new “Give Me Five” concept for communicating the warning signs of stroke to determine if it was more easily remembered among consumers than the standard “Suddens” warning signs. The results of the online survey of 1,000 people indicate that recall of all five warning signs with “Give Me Five” is nearly twice as high as the traditional warning signs. Twenty-one percent of those exposed recalled all five warning signs in some form versus 11 percent of those exposed to the traditional warning signs.

Published by David Dansereau

Licensed Physical Therapist, Nutritionist and Author in private consulting practice at PTC Physical Therapy Consulting and SmartMovesPT. Know-Stroke.org is my blog and members resource to raise stroke awareness and educate the public about reducing stroke risk as well as provide tips, tools and review new technologies for stroke recovery. Learn about my book, Body in Balance sold on Amazon at www.physicaltherapycoach.com

Join the Conversation


  1. Legendary TV Personality Mark McEwen has a new book out on life after stroke. In November 2005, Mark suffered a minor stroke while visiting relatives in Baltimore. The hospital misdiagnosed it as the flu and discharged him. A few days later, on a flight back to his home in Orlando, McEwen suffered a massive stroke during the plane’s descent. It almost killed him, and it might have been prevented.

    McEwen, a talented and witty public speaker, suddenly found himself stuck in a hospital, unable to talk, swallow, or move half his body. In his new book, CHANGE IN THE WEATHER: Life After Stroke, McEwen’s writes candidly everything that happened next, in an intimate chronicle of inspiring perseverance.

    Today, over two years later, McEwen has returned to much of his normal life—walking, talking, driving, and even going back on TV. With CHANGE IN THE WEATHER, McEwen has decided to share his story because “I want stroke survivors to know that they’re not alone. There is indeed life after stroke, and even in the most extreme cases, patients can expect to recover pieces of their old lives and graft them onto whatever new experiences lay in wait.”

    In addition to discussing what we need to know about stroke and its warning signs, he can discuss his illustrious career and how stroke humbled him.

    For more information on the book visit: http://www.markmcewen.com/


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