FAST test

It's vital to know how to spot the warning signs of a stroke in yourself or someone else. Using the FAST test is the best way to do this. 

  • 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.

There's no way of knowing whether your symptoms will pass when they first start. 

Other 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.

Ambulance paramedics are trained in stroke, and will take the person to the best hospital for specialist treatment.

Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)

A TIA (transient ischaemic attack), also known as a mini-stroke, is the same as a stroke, except that the symptoms last for a short amount of time and no longer than 24 hours. The FAST test can be used to recognise the signs of TIA as well. If you, or someone else, show any of the signs of stroke you must call 999. Don't wait to see if the symptoms pass or get better.

If you think you've had a mini-stroke in the past and have not sought medical attention, see your GP urgently. 

Every year at least 46,000 people in the UK have a TIA for the first time and although the symptoms may not last long, a TIA is still very serious. It's a major warning sign that a person is at risk of going on to have a stroke. 

Find out more

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