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Brain attack – acting FAST in case of stroke

World Stroke Day – 29th October

World Stroke Day is an annual reminder to think about those affected by stroke. It remains the 3rd most common cause of death in the UK, but is often overlooked as it is perceived to be a disease that affects only the elderly. This is not so, stroke can affect anyone of any age, including children.

Many of us will have friends or relatives who have had strokes but how many of us would be able to recognise the symptoms or know what to do about it?

If you would like more information, please see our “What is a stroke?” faq page.

World Stroke Day is always on 29th October

More information:

visit www.stroke.org.uk

A Stroke is a Medical Emergency


Stroke is the 3rd biggest killer in the UK yet many people still don’t know how to recognise the symptoms of stroke or how to help.  Over 150 000 people are affected by stroke each year and up to a quarter of these occur in those under the age of 65.

So what is a stroke? A good way to think about it, is as a “brain attack”. During such an attack blood flow to the brain is disturbed . This leads to part of the brain tissue being starved of oxygen and causing those areas of the brain to die resulting in loss of function in those areas.  It is usually caused by a clot or a bleed in the blood vessels in the brain which cause a blockage and prevent blood flow through the vessels.

Strokes can occur to anyone, of any age, at any time and are very definitely a medical emergency that needs to be treated either to prevent death or to minimise the long term effects of stroke injury.

Over the last few years, the Stroke Association has successfully launched the FAST campaign that is doing very well at highlighting the main symptoms of stroke.


The FAST acronym stands for

  • F – Face : Has the face become lop-sided, can the person smile evenly?
  • A – Arms:  Can the person hold both their arms out in front of them and keep them there?
  • S – Speech: has the speech become difficult, slurred or absent? Can they find and use words?
  • T – Time: If any one of these symptoms is present, it is Time for you to think F.A.S.T, act F.A.S.T and dial 999.

These are only a few of the symptoms but are the main ones to look out for.

What to do

From a first aid point of view, call 999, and explain the situation to the call handler.  Then, whilst waiting for the ambulance service to arrive, stay with the person, keep your patient warm and comfortable and provide reassurance that help is coming.

If the patient becomes unconscious, please put them in the recovery position.
For more information contact the Stroke Association on www.stroke.org.uk.