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How to tell if someone’s having a stroke


A stroke is essentially a “heart attack” in your brain. It happens when the blood supply to your brain gets interrupted or reduced. This causes your brain cells to start dying in just minutes due to the lack of oxygen and/or nutrients.

So, you can see that a stroke is a real medical emergency. Getting help fast is critical.

But because the symptoms of a stroke can feel strange and unusual to the person it’s happening to, many people may not know what is happening to them. So the faster you can recognise that you or someone else IS actually having a stroke the more likely you are to take fast action to help prevent long term brain damage and other complications.


Luckily the fastest way to recognise a stroke uses the word FAST. Here are the symptoms. FAST stands for FACE ARMS SPEECH & TIME.


Face – check their face. Is their mouth drooping on one side?

Arms – can they lift both their arms?

Speech – is their speech slurred? Can they understand you?

Time – if you see ANY of these signs, call 000 straight away.


There’s a lot you can do for someone who has just had a stroke, while you wait for the ambulance.


If they are unconscious, but are breathing and have a pulse, put them on their side.

But if they do NOT have a pulse or are not breathing, start CPR straight away.


If they are still conscious, lay the person on their side with their head slightly raised and supported.


Make the person comfortable. Loosen any restrictive clothing that could cause breathing difficulties.


Ensure you do not give them anything to drink or eat even if they request it.


If it’s obvious they have weakness in any arm or leg, support it and make sure you don’t pull on it when moving the person.


In Melbourne the Ambulance service is testing a new mobile STROKE response unit, which features a fully equipped ambulance that can begin delivering specialist treatment to a Stroke victim as soon as they arrive on the scene, rather than waiting for treatment to begin when the person arrives in hospital.


This trial, the first of its kind in Australia, is hoping to increase the quality of outcomes for stroke patients.


But these new ambulances will never arrive if you don’t recognise the signs of stroke quickly and act FAST to call them. If you don’t know CPR, it’s time to learn it with us!