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Signs & symptoms of a stroke

Do you know how to tell if someone is having a stroke? Or could you tell if you were having one yourself?

What are the signs and symptoms of a stroke and how do they differ from other medical episodes?

One of the biggest issues with a stroke is that a common symptom of suffering one is confusion. The person can simply start to feel rather strange in their heads and be unsure of what is happening to them. As a stroke is kind of like a “heart attack” happening to your brain, it causes the blood supply to get reduced or interrupted. This leads to a lack of oxygen and other nutrients in the brain which causes brain cells to start dying.

It's no surprise then that stroke victims become really confused about what is happening to them. This is why it’s so important for others around them to know what signs to look for, because the person themselves will most likely NOT realise they are having a stroke.

The best way to tell if someone is having a stroke is to remember this word – FAST! FAST stands for FACE ARMS SPEECH & TIME and that provides a clue of what to look for:

FACE – look at their face. Is their mouth drooping to one side? That’s a common sign.

ARMS – ask them to try and life both their arms. If they can’t that’s another stroke sign.

SPEECH – are they speaking in a slurred manner? Can they understand what you are saying?

TIME – Time is of the essence so if you see the first 3 signs, then call 000 immediately!

As long-term damage from a stroke can occur quickly, acting FAST is the right thing to do. Recognise the signs and symptoms FAST. And act FAST!

Once you recognise the signs and symptoms of a stroke and call an ambulance do the following steps to help the person.

If the person is still conscious, simply lay them on their side, making sure their head is raised slightly and is supported. Make the person as comfortable as possible, keep them calm and reassure them that help is on the way. Make sure they can breathe easily by loosening any tight clothing they might be wearing.

Do not try to give them anything to eat or drink, even if they ask for it.

If the person goes unconscious but it still breathing and has a pulse, put them on their side and keep them warm while you wait for the ambulance. Of course, if they NOT breathing and have no pulse then you should immediately start performing CPR on them.

In Australia, more ambulances now have the ability to being delivering specialist treatment to stroke victims as soon as they arrive, which can improve their recovery.

But the best thing you can do is get trained in First Aid & CPR. Book a course now at


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