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Carrying on from our previous article in which we explored 'What is a Stroke?', in this article we look at how to recognise a stroke and what to do if you suspect a person has had a stroke.

Think F.A.S.T!

Think F.A.S.T is the simple test devised by The Stroke Foundation of Australia to help you easily remember the most common signs of stroke and how to act accordingly. If you suspect a person may be having a stroke ask yourself these questions:

  1. Face: Check the person's face. Has their mouth drooped?

  2. Arms: Check the person's arms. Can they lift both arms?

  3. Speech: Check the person's speech. Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

  4. Time: Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 immediately.

Think F.A.S.T and Act FAST!

A stroke is always a medical emergency. The longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke related brain damage. If in doubt call 000!!

Emergency medical treatment soon after symptoms begin will improve the chance of survival and successful rehabilitation of your friend or loved one.


What Should You Do While Waiting For an Ambulance?

  • If the person is conscious, lay them down on their side with their head slightly raised and supported.

  • Do not give them anything to eat or drink.

  • Loosen any restrictive clothing that could cause breathing difficulties.

  • If weakness is obvious in any limb, support it and avoid pulling on it when moving the person.

  • If they are unconscious, check their breathing and pulse and put them on their side. If they do not have a pulse or are not breathing, start CPR straight away.

  • If you are unsure how to perform CPR, the ambulance call taker will give instructions over the phone.

Other Signs of A Stroke

The F.A.S.T test identifies the three most common signs of a stroke - facial weakness, slurred speech and arm weakness. However there are other signs you should be aware of that may occur alone or in combination that may indicate a stroke. These include:

  • Weakness, numbness or paralysis of face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body.

  • Difficulty speaking or understanding speech.

  • Dizziness, loss of balance of an unexplained fall.

  • Loss of vision, sudden blurred vision or decreased vision in one or both eyes.

  • Headache, usually severe and abrupt, or an unexplained change in the pattern of headaches.

  • Difficulty swallowing.

These signs may last for just a few minutes and then disappear. When this happens it may be a transient ischaemic attack (TIA) and you should seek medical advice. After a TIA, your risk of stroke increases. This can be a warning sign and should be opportunity to take action to reduce your risk of stroke. We will explore how to do this in our next blog post.

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