Act FAST if you suspect a stroke

29 October 2015

Learn how to spot the symptoms of a stroke and act FAST to get help.



A stroke is a brain attack, which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain. During a stroke, a person typically loses almost 2 million nerve cells per minute. Stroke is the leading cause of severe adult disability.

Jon Barrick, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association  says,  “We need to Act FAST because time lost is brain lost.”

Vital 3-hour window for stroke

Recognising the signs of stroke and acting quickly so that the person can get to hospital within the vital three-hour window results in a greater chance of recovery as well as reduced likelihood of permanent disability and lesser need for extensive rehabilitation.

Act F.A.S.T. when you spot these stroke symptoms

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred?
  • Time – time to call 999

Additional symptoms of stroke and mini stroke

  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion
  • Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms.

Dr Ann Hoskins, Director of Children, Young People and Families with Public Health England, said: “Every minute really does count when it comes to stroke and delaying treatment can have serious consequences. 

"We are urging everyone to stay alert to the signs of stroke and to seek immediate medical attention if they notice any of the symptoms in others. The faster a stroke is treated, the better the chances of a good recovery.”

Actress Miriam Margolyes, whose mother had a stroke, said: “When mummy had a stroke in the late 60s, there was so little known and much less awareness of stroke than there is today. It was the worst time of my life.

“A stroke happens out of the blue and knowing how to recognise the symptoms is so important. If you know what you’re looking for, you can get your loved ones the help they need immediately.

“We must remember to think and act FAST, you could save the life of someone you love. Face, Arms, Speech – Time to call an ambulance.”

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.