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Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program: BE FAST

Logo for the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program

Stroke prevention

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. Other risk factors of stroke and transient ischemic attack (TIA) include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Carotid stenosis
  • Smoking
  • Inactivity
  • Heavy alcohol use
  • Stroke in the family

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 and opportunities to learn more about commercial tobacco from the DHS Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of a stroke. The BE FAST acronym can help people learn the six most common signs of stroke and the importance of calling 911 for timely care.

Balance – sudden loss of coordination or balance
Eyes – sudden change in vision

Face – sudden weakness on one side of the face or facial droop
Arm – sudden arm or leg weakness or numbness
Speech – sudden slurred speech, trouble speaking, trouble understanding speech
Terrible Headache – sudden onset of a terrible headache

Types of stroke


A TIA is a warning of an impending stroke.

It happens when a blood vessel in the brain is blocked for a brief period of time, causing stroke symptoms that recover quickly, usually within one hour.

Symptoms that last longer may be a stroke, even if they resolve.


Ischemic strokes account for about 87% of all strokes (American Stroke Association). It happens when a clot blocks blood flow to the brain. There are two types of ischemic stroke:

  • Thrombotic strokes which are caused by a clot that forms in an artery that supplies blood to your brain.
  • Embolic strokes happen when a clot forms somewhere else in your body and moves through the blood vessels to the brain.


Hemorrhagic strokes account for about 13% of all strokes. It happens when a blood vessel ruptures causing bleeding in the brain. These are subdivided into two groups:

  • Intracerebral hemorrhages (ICH) are caused by the brain tissue bleeding.
  • Subarachnoid hemorrhages (SAH) usually happen when a blood vessel bursts in the brain (aneurysm). A sudden, terrible headache is the main symptom of this type of hemorrhagic stroke.

Post-stroke care

Recovery after a stroke looks and takes a different amount of time for everyone. Stroke rehabilitation can ease the transition home from the hospital and can help prevent a second stroke.

Stroke rehabilitation can include working with cognitive behavioral, occupational, physical, and speech therapy.

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) helps individuals identify and change thought patterns that have a negative influence on their behavior and emotions. CBT can help people cope with anxiety, frustration, anger, and depression after a stroke.
  • Occupational therapy helps individuals improve skills related to daily life so they can live as independently as possible.
  • Physical therapy helps individuals regain or improve physical abilities using exercises and equipment.
  • Speech therapy involves personalized care plans to improve communication after a stroke.

Support within the community is extremely beneficial after a stroke. This includes accessing community-based resources and supports. Find a stroke support group near you with American Heart Association's Stroke Support Group Finder.

Coverdell community partnership

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 having 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 person 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.

The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program invites all community-based organizations, with a health focused mission, to join in our pursuit of preventing and addressing stroke in their local communities. Our program joins community partners from across Wisconsin to create a larger, collective effort to reduce stroke occurrence and increase access to community-based care post-stroke. This group convenes bi-annually to discuss relevant topics.

The benefits of being a Coverdell community partner include:

  • Free stroke community education materials
  • Networking and community of practice opportunities with other Coverdell Community Partners
  • Technical assistance to answer questions regarding stroke and stroke prevention
  • Invitations to stroke education opportunities
  • Recognition on the state stroke program website

To join our Coverdell Stroke efforts, complete the Community Partner Agreement, F-03091 (PDF).

  • Ascension All Saints Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation
  • Aurora BayCare Medical Center Stroke Support Group
  • 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
  • Gateway Technical College- HERO Center
  • Great Rivers HUB
  • Green Lake County Health Department
  • Health Connections, Inc.
  • La Crosse County Health Department
  • Milwaukee Area Health Education Centers
  • Milwaukee Consortium for Hmong Health, Inc.
  • Milwaukee County Organizations Promoting Prevention
  • Northcott Neighborhood House, Inc.
  • Open Arms Free Clinic, Inc.
  • Sheboygan County Health and Human Services
  • Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging
  • Wisconsin Women's Health Foundation
  • YMCA of Chippewa Valley - Eau Claire Branch
  • YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee
  • YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee - Franklin
  • YMCA of Metropolitan Milwaukee - Brown Deer
  • YMCA of Northern Rock County
  • YMCA of Northern Rock County- Parker Branch

Community stroke education


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 through recognition of the BE FAST acronym representing the six most 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.

Be Fast Know the Signs of a Stroke Poster

Risk Factor Rick

The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program created Risk Factor Rick to promote awareness of risk factors of stroke. Risk Factor Rick can help people understand risk factors of stroke and what they can do to reduce their risk. The goal of these materials is ultimately to help prevent stroke.

We offer materials that show Rick demonstrating various risk factors of a stroke and ways to reduce these risks.

Use our helpful Risk Factor Rick materials with your community education efforts to help prevent stroke in your community.

Image with unhealthy habits and three images of person with healthier habits (checking blood pressure, exercising, and calling the Wisconsin Quit Line to stop smoking commercial tobacco)

Coverdell materials

The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program encourages community organizations, hospitals, EMS (emergency medical service) providers, and other patient care areas to promote BE FAST Bella and Risk Factor Rick. All items are available for you to download and print. You can add your logo before printing. Full-sized versions of these materials are organized below in accordions by language (English, Spanish, Hmong, Russian, and Somali).

Please follow the links under each material to the PDF files.

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.

Social media

Email the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Team at to request social media images.

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
  • Learn the ABCS of #stroke prevention to lower your risk: take Aspirin as directed by your healthcare professional, control your Blood pressure and Cholesterol, and quit or don’t start Smoking. Learn more at Million Hearts®
  • Almost 50% of Americans have high blood pressure and many are unaware. It cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with lifestyle changes and medication. Talk with your healthcare provider about what you can do to control your blood pressure and reduce your risk of #stroke.
  • Avoid smoking and second-hand smoke to reduce your risk for #stroke. Talk with your primary care provider! @CDCgov
  • Managing medical conditions, like obesity and diabetes, can reduce your risk for #stroke. Talk with your primary care provider! @CDCgov @AmDiabetesAssn @JDRF
  • 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
  • Physical activity reduces your risk for #stroke. It lowers both anxiety and blood pressure, and it improves quality of sleep!
  • Increase your physical activity and maintain a healthy weight to reduce your risk for #stroke. @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
  • Eating a healthy diet can help reduce your risk for #stroke. Learn about nutrition from @CDCgov

Risk Factor Rick messages

With all Rick messages, we encourage you to use a Rick graphic. Each of these graphics show risk factors and alternative healthy behaviors. We suggest these posts:

  • Educating yourself and others on risk factors and signs of #stroke is one of the best ways to prevent and receive the best care for stroke! Visit the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program Community Webpage for educational materials and resources.
  • It's no joke. Smoking commercial tobacco increases the risk of stroke, but after five years of no smoking, #stroke risk is the same as if you never smoked. Contact the Wisconsin QuitLine for help to stop smoking.
  • It's no joke. Smoking commercial tobacco increases the risk of stroke, but after five years of no smoking, #stroke risk is the same as if you never smoked. Contact the American Indian QuitLine for help to stop smoking.
  • It’s no joke. High blood pressure increases your risk of #stroke. Know your numbers. If you have high blood pressure, controlling it will reduce your risk for #stroke.
  • It's no joke. Movement matters! Regular physical activity reduces your risk for #stroke.

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:

  • 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! Learn more on the Wisconsin Coverdell website. #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 risk increases with age. Taking care of your health helps to reduce this risk. Visit the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program website and the Wisconsin Institute for Healthy Aging’s website to learn of different programs and resources to help stay healthy and prevent or reduce the effects of #stroke!
  • #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.
  • #TimeIsBrain Every minute counts when a #stroke happens. Calling 911 right away can help you or another get the fastest lifesaving treatment needed to reduce the risk of death and disability from #stroke. Learn more on the #WisconsinCoverdellStrokeProgram’s EMS Webpage.
  • Early treatment of depression may improve both physical and mental recovery from a #stroke. Learn more at American Stroke Association.

Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program success stories

The Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program highlights the great work of community, EMS, and hospital partners across the state in stroke care.

Want to be featured as the next Coverdell success story? Contact Kyleen Maccoux at about highlighting your organization's achievements in stroke care including quality improvement projects, best practice, or partnerships.

Two doctors reviewing x-rays

Stroke Care Closer to Home: Building a Stroke Program at Beloit Memorial Hospital (PDF)

Beloit Health System in Beloit, Wisconsin, 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.

Nurse tying on her surgical mask

Every Minute Counts: Theda Clark Medical Center Sees Success in Stroke Care (PDF)

Theda Clark Medical Center in Neenah, Wisconsin, 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.

Nurse talking with patient in hospital room

The Nurse Practitioner Model: Achieving Exceptional Results at ProHealth Care, P-01286 (PDF)

ProHealth Care hospitals are located in Oconomowoc and Waukesha, Wisconsin. 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.

Blurred image of a speeding ambulance

Community Education that Works: Moundview Memorial Sees Success in Stroke Outreach, P-01768 (PDF)

Gundersen Moundview Hospital and Clinics is in Friendship, Wisconsin. 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.

Two EMTs and a doctor unloading a patient from ambulance.

Teamwork Leads to Positive Patient Outcomes at Ascension All Saints, P-01870 (PDF)

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.

Medical personnel at a meeting

Rethinking Inpatient Stroke Care Transitions at Gundersen Health System, P-01870A (PDF)

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.

Surgical beds lined up in a hospital's corridor.

Enhancing Communication and Teamwork to Reduce Door-to-Needle Time, P-1870B (PDF)

Froedtert & the Medical College of Wisconsin maximized communication efforts. They enhanced teamwork among multiple disciplines to reduce their door-to-needle time.

Two ambulances with red cross emblem on the passenger doors.

Getting to the Right Place First: Milwaukee County EMS Stroke Patient Transport, P-01870C (PDF)

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.

"Emergency" on a hospital building.

Enhancing Emergency Department Efficiency Decreases Patient Disposition Times, P-01870D (PDF)

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.

Medical professionals talking with a hospital patient.

Reducing Risk Factors of Stroke Patients after Discharge, P-01870E (PDF)

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.

Doctors pushing a patient down a hospital hallway on a gurney

A Stroke Survivor’s Story: Occurrence Through Recovery, P-01870F (PDF)

Carol suffered from a stroke while working as a quality improvement nurse at Ascension NE Wisconsin Saint Elizabeth Campus. Her story shows courage and inspiration throughout her stroke journey.

Medical technology network icons.

Celebrating 10 Years of the Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program, P-01870G (PDF)

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.

A patient's health form on a clipboard is used at a hospital.

Journey to Comprehensive Stroke Center Certification: Ascension Columbia Saint Mary’s Milwaukee, P-01870H (PDF)

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.

Illustration of various medical personnel outside a medical facility

Strong Partnership Leads to Increased Documentation of EMS Pre-notification: City of West Allis Fire Department and Advocate Aurora West Allis Medical Center, P-01870I (PDF)

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.

Stroke risk spelled out on a blackboard.

Froedtert Health and High School Students Partner to Promote Stroke Awareness: Froedtert and the LAUNCH Medicine and Healthcare Strand Program, P-01870j (PDF)

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.

Adult holding a younger adults hands

Creating a Community: Ascension All Saints Stroke Support Group, P-01870K (PDF)

Ascension All Saints Hospital in Racine, Wisconsin created a community for stroke survivors, caregivers, and their loved ones within their monthly Stroke Support Group. This group allows attendees to access resources, education, and connect with others with shared experiences to increase resilience after stroke. This story describes the lessons learned as Ascension All Saints Hospital created and grows their Stroke Support Group. Learn more about starting a support group on American Stroke Association's Starting a Support Group page and find a 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:

Contact us

Wisconsin Coverdell Stroke Program


Last revised July 15, 2024