A stroke is a medical emergency. If you, or someone else, shows any signs of having a stroke you need to seek immediate medical attention.

FAST test

The FAST test can help you to recognise some of the most common symptoms of a stroke:

  • Facial weakness: Can the person smile? Has their face fallen on one side?
  • Arm weakness: 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 to call 999.

If a person fails any one of these tests, get help immediately by dialling 999.

Other symptoms of stroke

Symptoms of stroke usually come on suddenly. Other symptoms can include:

  • sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • difficulty finding words
  • sudden blurred vision or loss of sight
  • sudden confusion, dizziness or unsteadiness
  • a sudden, severe headache.

Don't ignore a TIA

A transient ischeamic attack or TIA is similar to a stroke but the symptoms are temporary – usually lasting from a few minutes up to 24 hours. A TIA is serious and should not be ignored.

If you experience any of the symptoms desrcibed above, even for a short amount of time, you must call 999.

Find out more

You can read more about the FAST test on the NHS Choices website or order one of our FAST leaflets from our shop.