Recognizing the signs of stroke saved my life

FAST is an easy way to spot a stroke; these Canadians are living proof
Jose Boudreault and Louis-Philippe Rivard

When Montreal media personality Josée Boudreault had a stroke, her husband, Louis-Philippe Rivard, knew what to do.

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 Heart & Stroke 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. 

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:



Josée Boudreault

On the first night of a family vacation last July, Montreal radio host and public speaker Josée Boudreault woke her husband, Louis-Philippe Rivard, because she wasn’t feeling well. He quickly saw her drooping face, trouble speaking and right side paralysis and immediately linked the symptoms to the FAST television spot from Heart & Stroke. The paramedics arrived at the hotel soon after his call to 911.


Rita Frost

Nancy Smith of Calgary was driving to her mom Rita’s home when she heard a radio ad with pop singer Alan Frew, a stroke survivor, talking about the FAST signs. “It’s less than a five-minute drive,” she says. “What are the chances I would hear it?” When Nancy recognized that her mom was having trouble speaking, she called 9-1-1. “She’s done remarkably well; you’d never know she had a stroke.”