Think FAST: How to recognise symptoms of a stroke

When you think stroke, you think of a condition commonly associated with the elderly. The reality is that people of any age can suffer a stroke. In fact stroke risk for younger people is on the increase, which is why awareness of stroke warning signs is so vital, as well as knowing what to do if a stroke is suspected.

The FAST test helps to spot the three most common symptoms of stroke:

  • Face: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?
  • Arms: Can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
  • Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Is their speech slurred?
  • Time: If you see any of these three signs, it’s time to call 999.

But there are other signs that you should always take seriously. These include:

  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, including legs, hands or feet.
  • Difficulty finding words or speaking in clear sentences.
  • Sudden blurred vision or loss of sight in one or both eyes.
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion, and dizziness or a sudden fall.
  • A sudden, severe headache.

There is no way of knowing if symptoms will pass or get better when they first start, so you need to seek immediate medical help. It’s important to learn stroke symptoms and act immediately, because with rapid treatment, stroke damage can be limited and the person can have a better chance of recovery.

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