Stroke Recognition - act FAST

Stroke Recognition - act FAST

The Stroke Association has launched an email campaign, sponsored by GE Healthcare, to tell people about the FAST test. If you have received this email, please do send it on to as many people as possible – let's fight stroke together!

If you have not received the email, but would like to pass this important message on to your friends and family, click here to access and forward the email.

To download FAST materials click here.

What is a stroke?

A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted. Most strokes occur when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain. Some strokes are caused by bleeding in or around the brain from a burst blood vessel.

What are the symptoms of stroke?

To help people recognise the symptoms of stroke quickly, The Stroke Association has funded research into FAST - the Face Arm Speech Test - which is used by paramedics to diagnose stroke prior to a person being admitted to hospital. By diagnosing the possibility of stroke before reaching hospital, it is possible for appropriate referral to a stroke unit to be made as quickly as possible.

What is FAST?

FAST requires an assessment of three specific symptoms of stroke:

  • Facial weakness - can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
  • Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms?
  • Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
  • Time to call 999

If the person has failed ANY ONE of these tests, you must call 999.

Stroke is a medical emergency and by calling 999 you can help someone reach hospital quickly and receive the early treatment they need.  Prompt action can prevent further damage to the brain and help someone make a full recovery. Delay can result in death or major long-term disabilities, such as paralysis, severe memory loss and communication problems.

What if the symptoms go away?

A Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA), which is sometimes called a mini stroke, is similar to a full stroke but the symptoms may only last a few minutes and will have completely gone within 24 hours. You should still carry out the FAST test done and treat it as a stroke until told otherwise by a paramedic.  Don't ignore it. It could lead to a major stroke. See your GP as soon as possible and ask to be referred to a specialist stroke service. This should happen within seven days.

The Stroke Association has a set of materials supporting their campaign.  For more information please visit the Stroke Assocaition website.