How to Act ‘FAST’ if You Sense a Stroke

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.

How to Act ‘FAST’ if You Sense a Stroke
Photo: iStock

The onset of symptoms is sudden and sometimes dramatic. Learn what to look for and prepare to act without delay. Prompt action can drastically improve outcomes.

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.

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

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

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

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

Subscribe to Reader's Digest magazine for more helpful articles ...


Latest from Health

Featured Articles
What Happened to Good Manners Magazine
What Happened to Good Manners
If you could get a word in edgewise, over the pointing and rude interrupting, what we really want to know is … What Happened to Good Manners?
Sugar the New Tobacco Health  
Sugar the New Tobacco
It’s a deadly health risk – but the food and beverage industry fends off regulation.
You Are WHEN You Eat Health  
You Are WHEN You Eat
The secret to better health could be as simple as an early dinnertime.
Six Great Railway Journeys Travel
Six Great Railway Journeys
Travelling by rail holds a romantic and old-fashioned appeal that can’t be matched by flying or driving.