Be aware of the signs of stroke – Act FAST

by admin | 23rd February 2012

Be aware of the signs of stroke – Act FAST

Many people experiencing a stroke have no idea they’re having one, mainly because they don’t know the signs of a stroke.  A stroke can happen at any time, whether at home in front of the TV or in the supermarket.  Many strokes go undetected by people because they don’t recognise the signs.

Time is crucial in treating stroke and the sooner a person experiencing a stroke reaches emergency care, the more likely the stroke can be limited and the condition managed to prevent further damage and improve recovery.

NHS Wiltshire is encouraging people to familiarise themselves with the signs of a stroke using the FAST acronym.

FAST is the acronym created by The Stroke Association which is used to assess three symptoms – as a vital way to help identify whether someone has had a stroke:

  • Facial weakness.  Can the person smile?  Has their mouth or eye dropped?
  • Arm weakness.  Can they raise both arms?
  • Speech problems.  Can you understand what they are trying to say?  Are they speaking clearly?
  • Time to call 999

Campaigns are being run from February 27 to March 25 on national TV by the Department of Health.  NHS Wiltshire is strengthening the message with radio campaigns on Heart and Spire FM to encourage people to familiarize themselves with the signs of a stroke and what action they need to take.

Maggie Rae, Corporate Director of Public Health and Public Protection at NHS Wiltshire and Wiltshire Council, said:

“Stroke is a brain attack which occurs when the blood supply carrying essential nutrients and oxygen to the brain is cut off.  It acts like a fire – brain cells can be damaged or destroyed, affecting body functions such as the control of limb movement.  Studies show that if the patient is treated immediately, the risk of long-term damage is reduced, which is why knowing FAST is so important in spotting the signs”.

The Stroke Association has developed an on-line video and test so that people can check how well they would spot the signs of a stroke in an emergency:


Notes for Editors:

In 2010, a major review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) on stroke care placed NHS Wiltshire in the category of best performing Primary Care Trusts, ranking the trust 20 out of 151 PCTs for the stroke services it delivers.

  • Stroke services across the county have continued to improve since then:
    • Wiltshire’s stroke patients now benefit from county-wide access to the ‘clot-busting’  stroke thrombolysis treatment on a 24/7 basis;
    • Over 80% of Wiltshire’s stroke patients spend more than 90% of their hospital stay on a stroke ward – this is much better than elsewhere in the country;
    • and there are Exercise After Stroke classes in Trowbridge and Chippenham leisure centres to help people with their longer term recovery and mobility.
  • In addition, Stroke Clubs are held across Wiltshire in Amesbury, Chippenham, Salisbury, Swindon, Trowbridge, Warminster and Wroughton.

Further details about FAST and stroke services can be found on the NHS Wiltshire website at:

The Stroke Association website at:

NHS Choices website:


Contact details for further information:

Tracy Torr, Communications and Engagement Assistant

01380 736010,

Page last updated: February 23rd, 2012 at 9:20 am