The Heart and Stroke Foundation is launching a new campaign to teach Canadians, young and old, how to quickly recognize the signs of someone having a stroke.

The campaign, called FAST, asks the public to learn the acronym, which organizers say could help save someone’s life:

  • Face: Is it drooping?
  • Arms: Can you raise both over your head?
  • Speech: Is it slurred or jumbled?
  • Time: Call 911 right away

“Simplified, the messaging that people will see and will hopefully help people remember more about stroke,” said Ian Joiner, of the Heart and Stroke Foundation.

The non-profit foundation said they are launching the multimedia, multilingual campaign in order to reach as much of the Canadian population as possible. It’s also aimed at younger people, as strokes among 20-40 year olds is on the rise.

At 38, Patrice Lindsay is a stroke survivor. It happened, she said, when she was rocking her two-year-old to sleep.

“My husband came running up the stairs and I kept trying to say, ‘stroke, stroke.’”

Lindsay said had all the typical symptoms: “I had the facial droop, I wasn’t able to properly speak,” said Lindsay, who is a nurse who studied emergency response and strokes.

When she lifted her left arm with her right hand, it would fall to her side if she released it.

Knowing the signs, Lindsay was at a stroke centre receiving treatment within minutes.

Receiving treatment quickly is critical, physicians say, but many are uncertain of when to act.

One-third of all stroke victims in Canada wait too long for help. Clot-busting drugs only work within the first three or four hours to correct that loss of blood flow to the brain.

The longer people delay, the worst the outcome, physicians say.

To help boost the awareness campaign, the Heart and Stroke Foundation is also launching videos to show what a stroke looks like through the eyes of someone watching it, and someone experiencing it.

Last March, Ontario woman Stacy Yepes brought international attention to the potentially deadly matter of strokes.

Yepes recorded herself having a stroke and shared her experiences with others online. It was a real education for the public and for physicians, who may never have seen a stroke in progress.

Stroke is the third leading cause of death in Canada. There are an estimated 62,000 strokes in Canada a year.

With a report by CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr