Recognising the symptoms of stroke FAST

More than 150,000 people a year in the UK are affected by stroke, that is one every 3 ½ minutes. To help those affected by stroke, it is really important that we recognise the symptoms and act quickly. So, what is stroke and how do we recognise it?


A stroke is sometimes called a “brain attack”, much like a heart attack, the blood supply is interrupted and can lead to significant damage to the brain. Long term difficulties as a result of stroke, can include walking, talking, speech, balance, co-ordination, vision, spatial awareness, swallowing, bladder control and bowel control and it can even by fatal. Thankfully, due to improvements in patient care, mortality rates have dropped significantly and we are also having better outcomes than ever.


A stroke happens suddenly and the symptoms and effects are experienced straight away. The quicker we recognise them and get help, the better the outcome for the patient. To help recognise the symptoms of stroke, we check the patient F.A.S.T. Ask yourself the following questions.

Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?

Arms – can they raise both arms and keep them there?

Speech – is their speech slurred?

Time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs of a stroke.

 They could also be suffering from:

  • Numbness
  • weakness or lack of movement on one side of the body
  • difficulty finding words or understanding speech
  • problems with vision
  • confusion
  • severe headacheA transient ischaemic attack (TIA), often called a “’mini-stroke”, happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is interrupted for a short time. The symptoms are the same as for a stroke, but they usually last only a few minutes or hours, and disappear altogether within 24 hours. If you are concerned someone is showing signs of stroke, call 999 and remember to act FAST.
  • Written by Sophie McCracken 23rd March 2017