One of the most important things I have learned is how vital it is that possible symptoms of stroke are recognised and acted upon immediately so that , if medically appropriate, “clot-busting drugs”  can be administered straight away to reduce potential brain damage.


In my case it was more than 3 hours before I got to hospital and this was too late. Perhaps if I had got there sooner and been given these drugs I may not now be half blind and suffering such severe learning difficulties.


Only a hospital test can confirm a stroke for sure, but it is important to know the signs. The Face/ Arms /Speech/ Time test ( F.A.S.T ) can help you recognise a stroke or TIA.


F.A.S.T was developed by leading stroke physicians and is used by the emergency services.

NHS advice is that If the person fails any one of these tests, dial 999 for an ambulance immediately so they can get urgent attention. Paramedics and ambulance staff are trained to assess patients with suspected stroke and get them to hospital quickly.


Quick diagnosis of stroke is important to understanding the cause, the damage done and what immediate treatment is needed. People with suspected stroke should have a brain scan as soon as  possible to determine (1) if the stroke was caused by a blocked artery or burst blood vessel (2) which part of the brain has been affected and (3) how severe the stroke is.


The sooner the person is diagnosed, the sooner they can be treated and the greater the chances of survival and recovery. Rapid diagnosis of TIA allows steps to be taken to reduce the risk of a second and potentially major stroke.


F – FACE - Has their face fallen on one side and can they smile?

A – ARMS  - Can they raise both arms and keep them them there?

S -  SPEECH - Is their speech slurred?

T – TIME – Time to call 999 (or 911) if you see any single one of these signs.