image for Stroke Signs - FAST

Program Overview

Only one in four people recognizes all the signs of stroke. To increase knowledge of stroke, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health developed a comprehensive public education campaign on stroke in English, Spanish, Portuguese and Khmer. The Stroke Heroes Act FAST campaign teaches the signs and symptoms of stroke and stresses the need for immediate action.

F-A-S-T stands for:

Face:Does the face look uneven? Ask the person to smile.
Arm:Does one arm drift down? Ask the person to raise both arms.
Speech:Does their speech sound strange? Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase.
Time:If you observe any of these symptoms, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Media Campaigns

Statewide media campaigns in English, Spanish, and Portuguese have included advertisements for:

  • Television
  • Radio
  • Public transportation transit cards
  • Print media


English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Khmer materials available to the public include:

  • Brochure
  • Poster
  • Wallet Card
  • Animated 3-minute video on DVD that uses a catchy tune with memorable lyrics to reach a large, diverse population

Materials are free for Massachusetts residents, and may be ordered at


The education kit is suitable for healthcare providers, teachers and other community leaders to provide stroke education presentations. The kit is available in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, and contains the following materials:

  • Two PowerPoints (short and long versions)
  • DVD of the animated video
  • Master CD with printable documents (educator guide, press release template, evaluation forms, certificate of completion, and artwork)
  • Samples of the brochure, poster, and wallet card

For more information on FAST presentations, education kits, or to inquire about a staff training, please contact HSPC at 1-800-487-1119 or



Several random-digit dial surveys have been conducted in Massachusetts to evaluate the effect of the FAST campaigns. These surveys have shown significant increases in knowledge about the FAST acronym, the signs and symptoms of stroke, and the importance of calling 9-1-1 at the first sign of stroke.


Since the launch of the campaign in 2006, FAST materials have been used in 48 states and 28 countries, including:

CanadaChileChinaCzech RepublicDominican Republic
MexicoNew ZealandPeruPolandSpain
ThailandTrinidad and TobagoUnited Kingdom  


  • In 2009, the Stroke Heroes Act FAST campaign won the Media Partnership Award, from the Partnership for a Heart-Healthy, Stroke-Free Massachusetts, for "Leadership in developing and promoting the FAST video to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of stroke in Massachusetts."
  • The Spanish adaptation of FAST took home two Gabriel Awards in 2008 — the video and radio spot each won Community Awareness/PSA awards, which signify "the highest achievement in excellence and public service in the art of communications," as deemed by the Catholic Academy for Communication Arts Professionals
  • The FAST video won the Silver Award for production at the 27th Annual Telly Awards, honoring "the finest video and film productions."


A peer-reviewed article about the FAST campaign, Addressing Stroke Signs and Symptoms Through Public Education: The Stroke Heroes Act FAST Campaign, was published in the CDC journal Preventing Chronic Disease in 2008;


Partners helping to produce and disseminate the FAST message include:

  • American Heart Association/American Stroke Association (AHA/ASA)
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
  • National Stroke Association (NSA)

This site provides basic information. For more information on stroke, visit the National Stroke Association at

Click here for the DPH page Basic Facts About Stroke.

To learn more about your personal chronic disease risk or for management strategies please contact your healthcare provider. For the most current information on chronic disease please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: .

This information is provided by the Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention and Control Program within the Department of Public Health.

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