With one stroke every nine minutes, strokes are the leading cause of disability in Australia and the third most common cause of death, affecting 25 per cent of working age Australians.
Despite these statistics, many Australians don’t know the warning signs or how to help if they encounter someone suffering from a stroke.
This National Stoke Week (August 2 – 8) St John Ambulance NSW is working to change this.
It’s asking people to memorise the acronym FAST – to remind them of the signs of a stroke and to act fast if they see someone experiencing them.
A stroke occurs when there is a lack of oxygenated blood getting to the brain, which may be caused by a bleed or a clot in one of the arteries.
St John Ambulance NSW, CEO, Sarah Lance says that the longer a stroke remains untreated, the greater the chance of stroke-related brain damage. That recognition can mean the difference between life and death.
“This is where the FAST test comes in” she says.
FAST test involves asking these simple questions:
FACE: Check their face. Has their mouth dropped?
ARMS: Can they lift both arms?
SPEECH: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
TIME: Time is critical. If you see any of these signs, call 000 straight away.
It’s also important to utilise basic first aid principals such as supporting their head and shoulders, loosening tight clothing, ensuring airways are clear and placing the patient in the recovery position if they lose consciousness.
“In the event of a stroke,” says Ms Lance, “remember that time is the most important element to consider. Every second counts.”
Resources about FAST are on the Stroke Foundation website here. See https://strokefoundation.org.au/ for more information about stroke symptoms, prevention and treatment in English and 10 community languages.