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.

FAST test

  • 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.

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.

TIA or mini-stroke

A TIA (transient ischaemic attack) is the same as a stroke, except that the symptoms last for a short amount of time. The symptoms are the same as a full stroke.

There is no way of knowing whether someone is having a TIA or a full stroke when the symptoms first start, so don't wait. Call 999 straight away. 

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.