The FAST test
A stroke 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 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 is no way of knowing if symptoms will pass or get better when they first start, so you need to seek immediate medical help. A stroke is a medical emergency. Always dial 999. The quicker the person arrives at a specialist stroke unit, the quicker they will receive appropriate treatment.
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.
Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA)
The FAST test can be used to recognise the signs of a TIA as well. 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.
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.