Stroke prevention begins in the community. It means knowing the signs and symptoms of stroke (BE FAST) so you can quickly call 911 when you or someone around you is potentially experiencing a stroke. Prevention also means taking steps to avoid strokes. This includes eating a healthy diet, getting regular physical activity, and quitting smoking.
Use the acronym BE FAST to recognize the signs of a stroke:
B – BALANCE: Sudden loss of coordination or balance.
E – EYES: Sudden change in vision.
F – FACE: Sudden weakness on one side or facial droop
A – ARM: Sudden arm or leg weakness or numbness.
S – SPEECH: Sudden slurred speech, trouble speaking, or trouble understanding speech.
T – TERRIBLE HEADACHE: Sudden onset of a terrible headache.
Each individual can do a great deal to prevent their own risk of a stroke, but it takes more to reduce the risk and result of stroke for everyone, everywhere. Community-based organizations are in a unique position to help. They can spread the word on ways to identify stroke signs, and these groups can educate the public on risk factors.
In September 2022, the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program began designating Coverdell Community Stroke Partners. Our program joins community partners from across Wisconsin. It creates a larger, collective effort to address stroke in our local communities.
To join our Coverdell Stroke efforts, complete the Community Partner Agreement, F-03091. (PDF)
- Bayfield County Health Department
- Casa ALBA Melanie
- Community Action for Healthy Living
- City of Menasha Health Department
- De Pere Health Department
- Dunn County Health Department
- Eau Claire City- County Health Department
- Great Rivers HUB
- Green Lake County Health Department
- Health Connections, Inc.
- La Crosse County Health Department
- Milwaukee Area Health Education Center
- Milwaukee Consortium for Hmong Health, Inc.
- Milwaukee County Organizations Promoting Prevention
- Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging
- Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation
- YMCA of Chippewa Valley
- YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee
- YMCA of Northern Rock County
- YMCA of Northern Rock County - Parker Branch
The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program created BE FAST Bella to promote stroke awareness. BE FAST Bella can help people learn the signs of a stroke.
We offer materials that show Bella having multiple signs of a stroke.
The acronym BE FAST describes the six common signs of stroke.
The phrase also teaches people to act quickly. They should call 911 right away if they see signs of a stroke in themselves or others.
Use our helpful BE FAST Bella materials with your community education efforts.
Quick stroke recognition is the first step to ensure timely medical care.
Most strokes can be prevented. Encouraging people to make healthy lifestyle choices, like quitting smoking and helping them control any current health conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes can help reduce their risk of stroke. Read more from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) at Prevent Stroke: What Can You Do. Learn more about commercial tobacco from our Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) runs active programs to help people prevent and understand conditions like Prediabetes and Heart Disease. We offer resources to help communities in their efforts to address Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity.
To order any of our community stroke education materials free of charge, please complete the materials order form to place your order. Materials are subject to availability.
Our BE FAST Bella materials can help people recognize the signs of stroke. The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program encourages hospitals, EMS (emergency medical service) providers, and other patient care areas to promote BE FAST Bella. All items are available for you to download and print. You can add your logo before printing. For a full-sized version of the coloring book and bookmark, follow the link to the PDF files.
Spanish BE FAST Wallet Card—P-02107D
Risk Factor Rick Smoking Cessation American Indian Quit Line—P-03432a (PDF)
Use these BE FAST Bella graphics in your social media posts. Attach these images to your messages to promote stroke awareness in a visual way. Right click on the image, then Save Image As to save it onto your computer. Or you may right click, then Copy Image and paste it directly into your social media post.
Bella 1 Graphic
Bella 2 Graphic
Bella 3 Graphic
Risk Factor Rick Blood Pressure Management Graphic
Risk Factor Rick Smoking Cessation
Risk Factor Rick Smoking Cessation- American Indian
Risk Factor Rick Exercise Graphic
BE FAST Bella messages
With all Bella messages, we encourage you to use a BE FAST Bella graphic. Each of these graphics describes the signs of stroke and calling 911. We suggest these posts and tweets:
- Recognize the signs and symptoms of a #stroke. #BEFAST
- If you or someone you know exhibits signs of a #stroke, act fast. Call 911. Time is brain! Go to dhs.wisconsin.gov/coverdell #Coverdell #BEFAST
- Bella is having a #stroke. Can you #BEFAST and spot the symptoms? #Coverdell
- Bella is suddenly unable to keep her balance. Know the signs of a #stroke so you can act quickly! #BEFAST #Coverdell
- Bella has a sudden change with her eyes—her vision is blurry. Know the signs of a #stroke so you can help Bella! #BEFAST #Coverdell
- Bella tries to smile, but suddenly one side of her face droops. Know the signs of a #stroke so you can act fast! #BEFAST #Coverdell
- Bella’s arm suddenly feels numb and weak. Know the signs of a #stroke so you can act quickly! #BEFAST #Coverdell
- Bella’s speech is suddenly slurred and hard to understand. Know the signs of a #stroke so you can act quickly! #BEFAST #Coverdell
- Bella suddenly has a terrible headache. Know the signs of a #stroke so you can act quickly! #BEFAST #Coverdell
- Bella is showing signs of a stroke. It’s time to call 911. Every second counts! #BEFAST #Coverdell
For general information on strokes, visit Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program.
General stroke messages
Remember to add hashtags and social media handles where appropriate.
- Did you know? #Stroke is the 5th leading cause of death in the U.S. @CDCgov
- Did you know? Someone in the U.S. has a #stroke every 40 seconds. Learn more Stroke Facts from @CDCgov
- More than 795,000 people in the U.S. suffer a #stroke every year. Learn more Stroke Facts.
- Risk for #stroke increases as you get older, but they can occur at any age. Learn more Stroke Facts.
- 7 out of 10 strokes occur in people over the age of 65. The risk of having a #stroke more than doubles each decade after age 55. Learn about the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program.
- #Stroke patients who are transported to the emergency room by EMS receive more timely care. Learn more through the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program.
- Check out this Interactive Atlas of Heart Disease and Stroke from @CDCgov. See how #stroke statistics vary in your state.
- A transient ischemic attack, or TIA, is also known as a mini-stroke. TIA often leads to a full #stroke if left untreated. Hear Blanche’s Story about her TIA experience.
Stroke prevention messages
- Do you have high blood pressure or high cholesterol? Manage these conditions to reduce your risk for #stroke. Talk with your primary care provider! @CDCgov @MillionHeartsUS
- Managing medical conditions, like obesity and diabetes, can reduce your risk for #stroke. Talk with your primary care provider! @CDCgov @AmDiabetesAssn @JDRF
- Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke to reduce your risk for #stroke. Talk with your primary care provider! @CDCgov
- A healthy diet can help reduce your risk for #stroke. Limit your sugar and salt intake, and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. @CDCgov
- Increase your physical activity and maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk for #stroke. @CDCgov
- Learn tips for physical activity and healthy nutrition habits from the American Diabetes Association to reduce your risk of #stroke. @AmDiabetesAssn
- Increase your Physical Activity to help reduce your risk for #stroke. Learn healthy tips and tricks from @CDCgov
- Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your risk for #stroke. Learn about Nutrition from @CDCgov
- Learn the ABCS of #stroke prevention to lower your risk: take Aspirin, control your Blood pressure and Cholesterol, and quit or don’t start Smoking. Learn more at Million Hearts®
The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program highlights stroke care success stories throughout the state.
Beloit Health System in Beloit, WI, set a standard process across the stroke care continuum. They educate all staff who treat stroke patients, and they use virtual consults with neurologists via a telestroke network.
Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, WI, uses advanced notification procedures for stroke care. EMS alerts the hospital when a stroke is suspected, allowing the hospital to assemble the stroke team before the patient arrives. They also review stroke cases bimonthly. They use Get With The Guidelines® tools, and have a stroke champion in the emergency department.
ProHealth Care hospitals are located in Oconomowoc and Waukesha, WI. They developed standard processes across the stroke care journey. A nurse practitioner provides resources and education to patients right after a stroke and during a patient’s recovery. This allows patients to discuss what they find important during their recovery.
Gundersen Moundview Hospital and Clinics is in Friendship, WI. They analyzed stroke data to find ways to improve. They provide staff education. They reach out to the community by giving presentations to target audiences and distributing stroke outreach materials.
Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine, Wisconsin, has worked to coordinate seamless stroke care from EMS response to care in the hospital and during transfers. They provide protocols for EMS to use in the field and coordinate ongoing EMS education. They created a loop closure system to ensure that all care providers get results on the outcomes of the patients they treat.
Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wisconsin, instituted a new procedure that transfers stable stroke patients from the emergency department directly to the neuroscience unit. This allows one provider and nursing team to deliver care throughout a patient’s stay.
Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin maximized communication efforts. They enhanced teamwork among multiple disciplines to reduce their door-to-needle time.
Stroke care is changing rapidly. Current guidelines recommend developing regional systems of care. This can ensure rapid, efficient, and seamless care of acute stroke patients. In many areas of the state, a regional approach to destination planning isn’t an option. In Milwaukee County, however, it was. Milwaukee County EMS proved that bypassing patients to the appropriate hospital doesn’t increase the time or distance to care. It provides access to care that people couldn’t get otherwise.
Poor efficiency in an emergency department can lead to longer hospital stays, overcrowding, and other delays in treatment. This motivated Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore to start new processes. Changes led to reduced delays to triage, treat, and transfer acute stroke patients in their emergency department.
A dedicated nursing team works at the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics. They began a quality improvement project for secondary stroke prevention. They work to further engage patients in healthy lifestyle changes. The project provides continued education for stroke patients. Patients learn to reduce the risk factors for stroke after being discharged from the hospital.
Carol suffered from a stroke while working as a quality improvement nurse at Ascension NE Wisconsin St. Elizabeth Campus. Her story shows courage and inspiration throughout her stroke journey.
The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program celebrates 10 years of success. The program works with partners across the state to improve stroke care for all. This success story highlights our top achievements from the last decade. It also shows where we’re headed in the future.
The hard work of staff at Ascension Columbia Saint Mary’s Milwaukee paid off. They earned a Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification through The Joint Commission in December 2020. This story describes the lessons learned, barriers and challenges, and success factors. It also shows how Ascension Columbia Saint Mary’s Milwaukee maintains success.
The City of West Allis Fire Department increased stroke pre-notification documentation by educating paramedics and partnering with Advocate Aurora West Allis Medical Center. This partnership assists them in providing the best care to stroke patients in their community.
Froedtert Health partnered with three local students from the LAUNCH Medicine and Healthcare Strand to create a stroke awareness campaign. The campaign includes a stop animation video titled Stroke Prevention with Craig, which highlights the signs and symptoms of a stroke and the importance of calling 911.
National EMS Week posts
- A timely arrival to an emergency department is crucial to having a better #stroke outcome. EMS personnel provide quick transport and emergency medical care #NationalEMSWeek
- EMS providers are ideally the first contact a stroke patient has with medical professionals. They can have a huge positive impact on long-term patient outcomes. Thank your favorite EMS provider during #NationalEMSWeek!
Drop-ins for newsletters
Share this text in your e-newsletter, blog, or other publications to raise awareness about stroke in your community.
Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability in the United States—but it doesn’t have to be. Stroke is preventable and treatable. October 29 is World Stroke Day, and May is Stroke Awareness Month. We dedicate these times to raising awareness about stroke signs, symptoms, and risk factors. Learn more about improving stroke care in communities nationwide. Visit the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program website.
Hashtags and social media handles
We offer sample social media messages for Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media venues. Use these hashtags and Twitter handles:
Find more campaign materials at these websites:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Stroke
- World Stroke Organization
- American Heart Association
- American Stroke Association
These groups often have new campaigns to share and create awareness of stroke. These campaigns may come with a variety of hashtags, social media handles, banners, and images for your use.
Find a Stroke Support Group near you with American Heart Association's Stroke Support Group Finder.
Use any of these resources to promote stroke awareness in your own way:
- American Heart Association
- American Stroke Association
- CDC: Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention
- CDC: Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity
- CDC: Stroke
- Million Hearts
- National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians
- CDC: Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program
- Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program: Publications and Materials
- Wisconsin Department of Health Services—Chronic Disease Prevention Program
- World Stroke Organization
- CDC video: A Stroke Can Happen at Any Age
- CDC video: What Happens in the Ambulance During a Stroke?
Coverdell Outreach Specialist