In honor of National Hispanic Heritage month, the American Stroke Association has launched a Spanish-language campaign to raise awareness among Spanish-dominant audiences around the warning signs of strokes. 

The campaign, Juntos Contra el Derrame Cerebral, promotes the use of the Spanish acronym R.Á.P.I.D.O., an alternative to the traditional English acronym F.A.S.T., to teach the six warning signs of stroke and the need to call 911 for quick medical response.

Only 39% of Hispanic-Latino consumers said they are familiar with F.A.S.T., and only 42% could correctly name two stroke warning signs unaided, according to an American Stroke Association survey. 

F.A.S.T. stands for facial drooping, arm weakness, speech difficulty and time to call 911, according to the association’s website

Juntos Contra el Derrame Cerebral, Spanish for “Together to End Stroke,” aims to increase awareness of R.Á.P.I.D.O. to close the gap between knowledge and action, address health disparities and ultimately improve stroke outcomes in the Hispanic-Latino community by saving lives, the organization said in a statement.

“There is a very specific push to talk to and target the Hispanic-Latino community with credible equitable health solutions because we did see that there was a massive health misinformation campaign targeting Hispanics [during COVID],” American Heart Association national senior marketing communications lead for cultural initiatives Natalia Ortiz said. 

“We realized we have a role to play as the American Heart Association and we can fill the gap in that void and really be that credible source of information for them,” she added.

The creation of the R.Á.P.I.D.O. acronym, the first Spanish acronym to be endorsed by the association, takes into account the community’s cultural and linguistic needs not represented in the English version by facilitating better comprehension and response to stroke symptoms. 

The acronym and its English translation stands for:

R – Rostro caído​ (face drooping)

Á – Alteración del equilibrio​ (loss of balance, or lack of coordination)

P – Pérdida de fuerza en el brazo​ (arm weakness)

I – Impedimento visual repentino​ (sudden vision difficulty)

D – Dificultad para hablar​ (slurred or strange speech)

O – Obtén ayuda, llama al 911 (get help, call 911)

R.Á.P.I.D.O. was developed by a group of stroke experts at UTHealth Houston, many of whom are American Stroke Association volunteers. The association, in partnership with the Spanish Stroke Council, then conducted scientific research to test the acronym’s effectiveness among Hispanic-Latino people who speak only or predominantly Spanish.

The association found that R.Á.P.I.D.O. was the most successful and decided to promote the campaign in Spanish and Spanglish to reach a wider range of bilingual audiences. 

“We have PSAs in Spanglish and in Spanish because we recognize that there are a lot of people that are bilingual or English dominant,” Ortiz said. “We wanted to make sure that our campaigns were not just in Spanish, but also in Spanglish as well to stay true to our culture.”

Hispanic-Latino adults in the U.S. have a higher risk of stroke due to unmanaged risk factors, limited access to health care, lower health literacy rates, cultural barriers and socioeconomic determinants of health, according to the association. 

The American Stroke Association added that projections show by 2030 the prevalence of stroke among Hispanic men will increase by 29%. 

The association’s adoption and promotion of R.Á.P.I.D.O represents significant steps in addressing the lack of awareness of the increased risk of stroke faced by Hispanic-Latino people in the U.S., a group already disproportionately impacted, the association said in a statement.

“When someone has a stroke every second counts. Identifying the symptoms, and knowing what to do is truly the difference between life and death or long term disability,” Ortiz said. “We know that stroke is the third killer of Hispanic women and fourth killer of Hispanic men. We really wanted to emphasize that strokes can happen at any age.”

The campaign features a public service announcement highlighting R.Á.P.I.D.O. and a jingle intended to help people memorize the acronym. The jingle, created by the American Heart Association’s advertising partner the Hispanic Communications Network (HCN), will be targeted through radio spots.

The song combines salsa and cumbia music into a catchy, easy to memorize tune that Ortiz says could be played on entertainment music stations in addition to being distributed on news stations, widening the PSA’s outreach. 

Social and digital assets have also been developed featuring stroke survivor and association volunteer Noelia Gutierrez to raise awareness about stroke and the importance of timely response within the Hispanic-Latino community.

“Our main goal is to empower the Hispanic-Latino community to learn the stroke warning signs, understand them, and then, most importantly, what to do, which is to call 911,” Ortiz said. “In a lot of communities, it’s not that simple to call 911. There’s a lot of mistrust and a lot of fear around calling 911.” 

Juntos Contra el Derrame Cerebral is specific to the U.S. but the message has the capacity for international reach, according to Ortiz. She expressed hope that people with close ties to family members in other countries will share the PSA, available on YouTube, through applications such as WhatsApp, furthering awareness around the signs and symptoms of strokes.

The association did not work with a PR agency across the campaign.

The American Stroke Association is a division of the American Heart Association. The Dallas-based association celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. 

This article originally appeared on PRWeek US.