A stroke causes numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Speech may be slurred, and there may be blurred vision or loss of sight, unsteadiness and confusion or complete unconsciousness. If you suspect a stroke use the 'FAST' test, and use it fast.

What is a Stroke?

A stroke happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood to the brain, or a blood vessel in the brain bursts. The onset of symptoms is sudden and sometimes dramatic. Learn what to look for and prepare to act without delay.

What to look for

Take 'FAST' action

 

A stroke causes numbness, weakness or paralysis on one side of the body. Speech may be slurred, and there may be blurred vision or loss of sight, unsteadiness and confusion or complete unconsciousness. If you suspect a stroke use the 'FAST' test, and use it fast.

FACE. Look at the face. Do you notice any weakness? Ask the casualty to smile. A one-sided smile, while the other side of the face droops, suggests stroke.

ARMS. Ask the casualty to lift each arm in turn. If they cannot lift one of them, this is further evidence of stroke.

SPEAK. Ask the casualty to speak. If they have suffered a stroke they may not properly understand you or be able to respond.

TIME. Act fast and if the casualty fails any of these tests, call the ambulance. Offer reassurance. Check and make a note of levels of consciousness. Prepare to give CPR.

Risk factors

Factors that can cause a stroke include smoking, high blood pressure and heart disease, being overweight, raised cholesterol, diabetes, and excessive alcohol and caffeine consumption. It's not just an affliction of the elderly—even children may be affected. Alarming though a stroke is, if you recognise the warning signs and act quickly to get prompt medical help, a patient can make a good recovery.

For more info follow the advice of Clive James from St John's Ambulance:

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