First aid tip: Recognising a stroke – the FAST test
On average, one person every 40 seconds has a stroke in the United States . Early medical treatment can significantly improve the outcome of a stroke, therefore being able to recognise the signs & symptoms is incredibly important.
What is a stroke?
A stroke (or ‘CVA’ – cerebrovascular accident) is a problem with the blood supply to the brain. The brain has a large and complex system of arteries and veins supplying it with blood.
Broadly, there are two types of stroke:
Ischemic stroke: A clot blocks an artery in the brain causing death of brain tissue.
Hemorrhagic stroke: An artery in the brain ruptures causing bleeding.
The most common type of stroke is ischemic stroke which accounts for approximately 85% of strokes. The only way to tell the difference between an ischemic/hemorrhagic stroke is a brain scan (CT scan).
If you suspect a stroke, there is a simple test you can use. The FAST test:
Face: Does the person have any facial weakness? Can they smile evenly? Does one side of their face appear to droop?
Arms: Can the person raise both arms?
Speech: Can the person speak clearly? Is their speech slurred?
Time: Time to call an ambulance if the person fails any of the above tests.
Video: How to recognise a stroke using the FAST test