News Release

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke Announces Effort to Promote Stroke Awareness in the Hispanic Community

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), announced the launch of a new community education program, which broadens the Institute’s national stroke education campaign Know Stroke. Know the Signs. Act in Time. to promote stroke awareness among Hispanics in the United States.

The program’s key component is a toolkit, Ataque cerebral: conozca los síntomas y actúe a tiempo, that can be used by promotores de salud (lay health educators) in charlas (health talks) to educate their communities about the signs of stroke and the importance of calling 911 promptly to receive appropriate medical treatment. Prompt treatment can dramatically decrease or even prevent long-term disabilities caused by a stroke.

“Some people do not recognize stroke as a medical emergency and may not feel comfortable calling 911 due to possible perceived language barriers,” said José G. Merino, M.D., staff clinician in the Section of Stroke Diagnostics and Therapeutics at NINDS. “It is important that Hispanics know how to recognize the signs of stroke and feel confident saying only ‘stroke’ when calling 911 to receive immediate medical treatment.”

Stroke is the third leading cause of death and one of the leading causes of adult, long-term disability in the United States. Each year, about 700,000 people have a new or recurrent stroke. Hispanics have a higher rate of risk factors that increase the likelihood of stroke. These include diabetes, excessive weight, high blood pressure, and cigarette smoking.

Many people do not know the symptoms or what to do when they witness someone having a stroke. The warning signs of stroke are:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
  • Call 911 if you see or have ANY of these symptoms.

As part of the critical push to raise stroke awareness in Hispanic communities, NINDS, through a partnership with the National Council of La Raza (NCLR), conducted a pilot training with the toolkits for promotores de salud and outreach workers. With the recent completion of the training, NINDS has set the foundation for broader educational outreach that will expand to other cities in the coming months.

NINDS is also working with other national organizations, including the National Alliance for Hispanic Health (NAHH), to disseminate stroke information through health educators and community outreach workers in local communities across the country.

“We are pleased to be working with prominent organizations that are as committed to improving the health and well-being of Hispanics as we are. They are vital to expand the reach of the Know Stroke campaign to Hispanics and represent a critical channel for us to bring the messages of the campaign to key community leaders and educators,” said Dr. Merino.

In developing the toolkit, NCLR conducted audience research with focus groups across the country that provided valuable insights about Hispanics’ knowledge, awareness, and attitudes related to stroke. Components of the toolkit include: a video with testimonies from people who have successfully recovered from stroke due to their prompt action and information from a medical expert; a flipchart that complements the video, and brochures that capture key messages for charlas participants to take home and share with others.

For more information about the toolkit or other Know Stroke campaign materials, contact NINDS at 1-800-352-9424 (Spanish-speaking specialists are available to assist you), or visit Also, for a full listing of Spanish-language publications, visit

NINDS, a component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the nation’s primary supporter of basic, translational, and clinical research on the brain and nervous system. NINDS aims to reduce the burden of neurological disease among all Americans. Go to for more information.

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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