Stroke: warning signs

Signs of stroke FAST. Recognise the signs of stroke call 000. A stroke is always a medical emergency.

Using the FAST test involves asking three simple questions:

FaceCheck their face. Has their mouth dropped?
ArmCan they lift both arms?
SpeechIs their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
TimeIs critical. If you see any of these signs call 000 straight away.

Facial weakness, arm weakness and difficulty with speech are the most common signs of a 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;
  • difficulty swallowing.

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.

When symptoms disappear within 24 hours, this episode may be a mini stroke or Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA).

If you or someone else experiences the signs of stroke, no matter how long they last, call 000 immediately.

Last Reviewed: 30 July 2013
Reproduced with kind permission from the Stroke Foundation.

References

1. Stroke Foundation. Signs of stroke FAST. http://strokefoundation.com.au/what-is-a-stroke/signs-of-stroke/ (accessed October 2013).
National Stroke Foundation (NSF)

National Stroke Foundation (NSF)

The Stroke Foundation is a national not-for-profit organisation working across the stroke journey, supporting stroke survivors, carers, health professionals, governments and the public to reduce the impact of stroke on the Australian community.  We are the voice of stroke in Australia.  Our mission is to stop stroke, save lives and end suffering.