Dealing with a Stroke

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This leaflet is created from first aid advice provided by St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity. This advice is no substitute for first aid training - find a training course near you.

A stroke is caused by a portion of the brain being starved of oxygen. This can be due to a burst blood vessel or a clot blocking a blood vessel. The lack of oxygen causes damage to the brain. The long-term effects of a stroke depend on what part of the brain is involved and on how much tissue is affected.

To recognise if someone has suffered a stroke, perform the FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) test:

  1. Look at their face:
    • Ask them to smile.
    • If they have had a stroke, they may only be able to smile on one side; the other side of the mouth may droop.
  2. Ask them to raise both arms:
    • If they have had a stroke, they may only be able to lift one arm.
  3. Find out whether they can speak:
    • Ask them to speak.
    • If they have had a stroke, they may struggle to respond appropriately.
  4. Time to call 999/112/911:
    • Call 999/112/911 for emergency help.
    • Tell the operator you have used the FAST test and suspect a stroke.
    • Keep them comfortable and supported.

Note: these hints are no substitute for thorough knowledge of first aid. St John Ambulance holds first aid courses throughout the country.

Adapted from the St John Ambulance leaflet: stroke. Copyright for this leaflet is with St John Ambulance.

Original Author:
St John Ambulance
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
St John Ambulance
Document ID:
28673 (v1)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
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