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Campaign raises awareness for Hispanics, who are at higher stroke risk

Hispanic U.S. adults face a high stroke risk, and experts created a new Spanish acronym (similar to F.A.S.T.) to help recognize stroke signs.
Campaign raises awareness for Hispanics, who are at higher stroke risk
Posted at 5:23 PM, Sep 20, 2023

A fairly new acronym for Spanish speakers aims to teach stroke warning signs in their native language and bridge language gaps.

Stroke is the fifth-leading cause of death in the U.S., and Hispanics have a higher risk of high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity, increasing their stroke risk and making it the third-leading cause of death for Hispanic women and fourth for men. Which is why for Hispanic Heritage Month, the American Stroke Association, a division of the American Heart Association, initiated the "Juntos Contra el Derrame Cerebral" (Together Against Stroke) campaign, aiming to raise awareness of the Spanish acronym R.Á.P.I.D.O., designed to help identify stroke signs.

R.Á.P.I.D.O. means "F.A.S.T.," the stroke warning acronym we use in English.

F: Face drooping

A: Arm weakness

S: Speech difficulty

T: Time to call 911

But for Spanish-speaking folks, F.A.S.T. doesn’t translate as well. Just 39% of Hispanic-Latinos were familiar with the English acronym, and only 42% could accurately name two stroke warning signs without assistance, a survey by the American Stroke Association found. 

"R.Á.P.I.D.O. is a tool that can help save lives," said Dr. José Biller, an American Stroke Association volunteer expert, in a press release.

R: Rostro caído (face drooping)

Á: Alteración del equilibrio (Loss of balance)

P: Pérdida de fuerza en el brazo (Arm weakness)

I: Impedimento visual repentino (Sudden vision difficulty)

D: Dificultad para hablar (Speech difficulty)

O: Obtén ayuda, llama al 911 (Get help, call 911)

According to the American Stroke Association, Hispanic-Latino adults in the U.S. have a higher stroke risk due to various factors, including limited health care access, lower health literacy rates, cultural barriers and longer hospital arrival delays compared to non-Hispanic stroke patients.

"The language barrier is among the most significant barriers to health care access and quality. Understanding which Spanish acronym resonated best with Spanish-speaking communities addresses this barrier while increasing stroke awareness and improving outcomes for all," said Biller.

Over 40 million people in the United States speak Spanish at home, with the language being spoken in 13% of households, according to Census data. 

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