Meri Griffiths couldn’t talk. As the 62-year-old slipped into garbled speech, her daughter Keri-Lee tried frantically to understand her. “It sounded like she just came back from the dentist,” Keri-Lee recalls. “Like her mouth was packed with cotton balls.”
That’s when Keri-Lee remembered seeing a TV commercial about the signs of stroke. Slurred or jumbled speech was one sign. She called 9-1-1.
Recognizing a stroke quickly can mean the difference between life and death. FAST, a simple, four-letter acronym, makes it easy to remember the signs that can save a loved one’s life.
The ad was produced by the Heart and Stroke Foundation, which is working with provincial governments to help it reach as many Canadians as possible. For Meri Griffiths, her daughter’s fast action led to a full recovery. Four months after her stroke in July, 2015, she returned to work at her nursing job in Aldergrove, BC.
“Seeing someone you love have a stroke in front of you is a horrible experience,” Keri-Lee says. “But knowing what to do was comforting.”
Thanks to FAST, more Canadians are recognizing the signs of stroke. And more lives are being saved. Here are some:
- After watching the signs of stroke ad, 44-year-old Lee Anne Gaudet, of Saskatoon told her husband, “‘If that ever happens to me, you have to call 9-1-1.’” Five days later, that’s exactly what he did. “If I hadn’t seen the ad, if my husband didn’t call 9-1-1 immediately, I wouldn’t be telling my story today.” Lee Anne says. “I hope my positive outcome will inspire more people to learn the signs that could save a life.”
Lee Anne Gaudet
- Sarah-Ann Duchesne, 27, watched the FAST ad and memorized four letters that would save her life when she had a stroke on a camping trip. “I managed to tell my boyfriend that I was having a stroke,” says the Montreal resident. “I could not believe this was happening to me at such a young age.”
Sarah Ann Duchesne
- When Tom Blackmore of Toronto suddenly felt wobbly and experienced vision problems, he dismissed it as the flare-up of a recent injury. But his wife, Jane, had seen the FAST ad and knew better. Jane called 9-1-1 and Tom’s stroke was successfully treated with the clot-busting drug tPA.
- PEI resident Lorraine Gallant, 80, is alive because granddaughter Amy saw the FAST ad and recognized her stroke symptoms. “Amy kept repeating, ‘She’s just like the man on TV!’” Lorraine recalls. She wants everyone to see the ad. “It might give you the tools you need to save a life.”
Lorraine Gallant with granddaughter Amy
- On her last birthday, Linda Catlin of Kingston, Ont., saved her mother Noreen’s life. Thanks to Linda’s fast thinking, Noreen, 88, was rushed to the hospital where she was treated for a stroke. “Because of FAST, Mom is still here to celebrate birthdays and holidays with us,” says Linda.
- Learn how to recognize the signs of stroke fast.