Act FAST – Stroke awareness

A stroke happens when blood flow to a part of your brain is cut off.  Without the oxygen in blood, brain cells start dying within minutes. The affects of a stroke depend on several factors, including the location of the obstruction and how much brain tissue is affected. 

The signs and symptoms of a stroke usually begin suddenly and vary from person to person. As different parts of your brain control different parts of your body, your symptoms will depend on the part of your brain affected and the extent of the damage.

The main stroke symptoms can be remembered with the word FAST:

  • Face– the face may have dropped on one side, the person may not be able to smile, or their mouth or eye may have drooped.
  • Arms– the person with suspected stroke may not be able to lift both arms and keep them there because of weakness or numbness in one arm.
  • Speech– their speech may be slurred or garbled, or the person may not be able to talk at all despite appearing to be awake.
  • Time– it’s time to dial 999 immediately if you notice any of these signs or symptoms.

The FAST test helps to spot the three most common symptoms of stroke. But there are other signs that you should always take seriously. These include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, including legs, hands or feet.
  • Difficulty finding words or speaking in clear sentences.
  • Sudden blurred vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion, and dizziness; or a sudden fall.
  • A sudden, severe headache.

If you spot any signs of a stroke then call 999 immediately.

Ambulance paramedics are trained in stroke, and will take the person to the best hospital for specialist treatment.

How to prevent a Stroke

One of the ways to help prevent a stroke is to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and avoid smoking and drinking too much alcohol. An unhealthy diet can increase your chances of having a stroke because it may lead to an increase in your blood pressure and cholesterol levels.