Recognising a Stroke F.A.S.T.
A stroke happens when blood supply to the brain is interrupted. Blood is carried to the brain by blood vessels called arteries. Blood contains oxygen and important nutrients for your brain cells. Blood may be interrupted or stop moving through an artery, because the artery is blocked (ischaemic stroke) or bursts (haemorrhagic stroke). When brain cells do not get enough oxygen or nutrients, they die. The area of brain damage is called a cerebral infarct.
The National Stroke Foundation recommends the F.A.S.T. test as an easy way to remember the most common signs of stroke.
Using the F.A.S.T. test involves asking these simple questions:
Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
Arms: Can they lift both arms?
Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
Time Is critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.
A stroke is always a medical emergency. Recognise the signs of stroke call 000.
A stroke is not a heart attack. A stroke happens when the supply of blood to the brain is suddenly interrupted. Some strokes are fatal while others cause permanent or temporary disability.
The longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke related brain damage. Emergency medical treatment soon after symptoms begin improves the chance of survival and successful rehabilitation.
Facial weakness, arm weakness and difficulty with speech are the most common symptoms or signs of stroke, but they are not the only signs. Other signs of stroke may include one, or a combination of:
Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body
Difficulty speaking or understanding
Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall
Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes
Headache, usually severe and abrupt onset or unexplained change in the pattern of headaches
The signs of stroke may occur alone or in combination and they can last a few seconds or up to 24 hours and then disappear.