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.

FACE
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.

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

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

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