Word on Health

Word On Acting F.A.S.T. When A Stroke Occurs

Our thanks to the Stroke Association for their contribution to our 'on-air' report, which you can hear again below and for the use of the support information below. To find out more click here.

What is a stroke?  A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of the brain is cut off, killing brain cells. Damage to the brain can affect how the body works. It can also change how you think and feel.

The effects of a stroke depend on where it takes place in the brain, and how big the damaged area is.

Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK. It can happen to anyone, of any age, at any time. It's vital to know how to spot the warning signs of a stroke in yourself or someone else. Using the FAST test (see below) is the best way to do this. 

Symptoms of stroke. The FAST test helps to spot the three most common symptoms of stroke. 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.
  • If you spot any of these signs of a stroke, don't wait. Call 999 straight away. nAmbulance paramedics are trained in stroke, and will take the person to the best hospital for specialist treatment.

Signs of stroke - FAST

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.

The effects of a stroke depend on where it takes place in the brain, and how big the damaged area is.

Different types of stroke. There are three different types of stroke; ischaemic strokes, haemorrhagic strokes and transient ischemic attacks.

  • An ischaemic stroke is caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain. This is the most common type of stroke.
  • A haemorrhagic stroke is caused by a bleeding in or around the brain.
  • A transient ischaemic attack or TIA is also known as a mini-stroke. It is the same as a stroke, except that the symptoms only last for a short amount of time. This is because the blockage that stops the blood getting to your brain is temporary.

What causes stroke? As we age, our arteries become harder and narrower and more likely to become blocked. However, certain medical conditions and lifestyle factors can speed up this process and increase your risk of having a stroke.

Can you recover from stroke? All strokes are different. For some people the effects may be relatively minor and may not last long. Others may be left with more serious problems that make them dependent on other people.

Unfortunately not everyone survives – around one in eight people die within 30 days of having a stroke. That’s why it’s so important to be able to recognise the symptoms and get medical help as quickly as possible.

The quicker you receive treatment, the better your chances for a good recovery.

Listen to this weeks radio report

All material on this website is provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.