Think F.A.S.T., act FAST if you suspect stroke

A stroke is always a medical emergency. The longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke-related brain damage.

How do you know if someone is having a stroke? Think… F.A.S.T.

The Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke. Using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:

  • Face Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
  • Arms Can they lift both arms?
  • Speech Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
  • Time Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

Other signs of stroke

Facial weakness, arm weakness and difficulty with speech are the most common symptoms or signs of stroke, but they are not the only signs.

The following signs of stroke may occur alone or in combination:

  • Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body
  • Difficulty speaking or understanding
  • Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall
  • Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes
  • Headache, usually severe and abrupt onset or unexplained change in the pattern of headaches
  • Difficulty swallowing

Sometimes the signs disappear within a short time, such as a few minutes. When this happens, it may be a transient ischaemic attack (TIA). After a TIA, your risk of stroke is higher. Stroke can lead to death or disability. A TIA is a warning that you may have a stroke and an opportunity to prevent this from happening.

If you or someone else experiences the signs of stroke, no matter how long they last, call 000 immediately. What to do while you wait for an ambulance

Emergency medical treatment soon after symptoms begin improves the chance of survival and successful rehabilitation.

More than 80% of strokes can be prevented. 

Managing your stroke risk and living a healthy lifestyle can help prevent you from having a stroke.

There are some stroke risk factors that you cannot do anything about, such as older age, being male, family history or already having a prior stroke. But for most Australians, you can reduce your risk and help prevent stroke by taking some simple steps:

1. Make time for a health check for stroke risk factors:

  • High blood pressure
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • High cholesterol
  • Irregular pulse (atrial fibrillation)

2. Take charge of your own health and live a healthy lifestyle:

  • Stay active
  • Eat well
  • Quite smoking
  • Drink alcohol in moderation

Visit the Stroke Foundation for more information about Stroke.