Vermont Press Releases

American Stroke Association urges everyone to learn F.A.S.T during American Stroke Awareness Month

NEWS RELEASE — American Heart Association
May 1, 2013

Audra Burns
Communications Director
American Heart Association

For Media Interviews Contact:

Stroke Work Group Chair Mark Depman
802 371 4522
Stroke Warning Signs and Symptoms

Together To End Stroke

American Stroke Association urges everyone to learn F.A.S.T during American Stroke Awareness Month:

Vermont Undertaking Project to Improve Acute Stroke Care

Williston, VT – Would you be able to recognize a stroke if was happening to you or someone around you? Unfortunately, too many people miss the signs of stroke and go without medical attention for hours—sometimes days—after suffering a stroke. That’s why the American Heart Association is urging everyone to learn the warning signs of stroke during May, American Stroke Awareness Month.

The American Heart Association, a partner in the Vermont Stroke Work Group, also announced today that the Vermont Department of Health will soon begin a project recommended by the group to improve acute stroke care in Vermont.

Beginning in July, the Health Department will contract with the Vermont Program for Quality Health Care (VPQHC) to facilitate implementation of emergency department stroke assessment and treatment guidelines developed by the Vermont Stroke Work Group. The Vermont Stroke Work Group – stroke neurologists, emergency department physicians, EMS, Vermont Association of Hospitals and Health Systems the American Heart Association – was tasked by the Vermont legislature with developing recommendations for a voluntary system of acute stroke care for Vermont.

Stroke Work Group Chair Mark Depman, Emergency Department Director at Central Vermont Medical Center said, “We’re excited that we’ll now have a centralizing force to coordinate much-needed efforts to improve acute stroke care in Vermont. Implementation of these recommendations will develop a quality stroke system of care here.” As part of the project VPQHC will be working with hospitals to:

· Integrate stroke guidelines into their work flow

· Educate medical staff to achieve the goal of “one hour to treatment decision”

· Improve access to neurological consultation at tertiary care centers

· Develop hospital transfer protocols

· Coordinate EMS and hospital improvement efforts

And another initiative announced by the organization today will improve stroke treatment by raising awareness in lay citizens. On average, every 40 seconds, someone has a stroke and every four minutes, someone dies of a stroke. Together To End Stroke, nationally sponsored by Covidien, is the American Stroke Association’s national initiative to bring awareness that stroke is largely preventable, treatable and beatable. Stressing the importance of reducing risk while knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke, the Association is determined to reach their goal of building healthier lives by reducing disability and death from stroke by 20 percent by 2020

When it comes to knowing the stroke warning signs, only about two out of three Americans can correctly identify at least one sign. Together to End Stroke is helping Americans more easily recognize the stroke warning signs that come on suddenly through a quick and easy acronym called, F.A.S.T:

F.A.S.T. is a simple way to remember some of the warning signs of a stroke and the importance of getting medical help immediately.

F-Face Drooping

A-Arm Weakness

S-Speech Difficulty

T-Time to Call 9-1-1

“Stroke is a scary issue, no doubt about it,” notes Ruby Souhan, MS, NP-C, Nurse Practitioner and board member of the Vermont American Heart Association. “But stroke doesn’t have to mean death or disability. The quicker a stroke is recognized and the quicker the stroke victim receives medical attention, the less like there is the chance for long term damage. It is so important to call 9-1-1 as soon as humanly possible.”

Although stroke is our nation’s No. 4 leading cause of death and leading cause of long term disability, research suggests that nearly 80% of strokes may be prevented if certain risk factors are controlled, including obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and physical inactivity.

“The best thing you can do for yourself is to live a healthy lifestyle,” continues Souhan. “Eating healthy, exercising and getting regular check-ups with your doctors won’t only make you feel better in the here and now, but it could save your life in the future.”

The American Heart Association | American Stroke Association offers My Life Check–a free online health assessment that can help you start the conversation about your personal risk for heart disease and stroke. To learn more visit

For more information about stroke, warning signs or healthy lifestyle, call the American Stroke Association at 1-888-4STROKE or visit

Reducing the rate of stroke deaths is one of the goals of Healthy Vermonters 2020, the state’s set of public health goals for the decade. To learn more, visit:

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