Is it a stroke?


Learn the main signs of stroke and to act F.A.S.T. by calling 111 if you suspect a stroke.


The F.A.S.T. campaign encourages everyone to learn the key signs of stroke and to think F.A.S.T., act fast and look out for each other by calling 111 if they suspect a stroke. Prompt action can save lives - as well as improve recovery.

It is vital to recognise when someone is having a stroke and to start treatment as soon as possible, because the sooner medical treatment begins, the more likely brain damage can be reduced and a better outcome achieved. The quicker a clot can be dissolved or removed, the less damage is done, and the better the chance of a strong recovery.

A stroke is a brain attack – it's very serious. The symptoms might show on the face, arm or in speech, but it's the brain that's being damaged.

If any of the signs of stroke are recognised, don’t wait, call 111 straight away. Don't call your doctor, or drive yourself get help immediately. Ambulance staff want to hear from you if you recognise the F.A.S.T. signs call 111 and tell them it's a stroke. You can learn more about what a stroke is here.

What are the signs of stroke?

The signs and symptoms of stroke usually come on suddenly. The type of signs experienced will depend on what area of the brain is affected.


How can you tell if someone is having a stroke?

By learning to recognise the symptoms of stroke you could save a life!

Over 9,500 strokes are experienced each year. Watch the video above, or look at this graphic. Learn the F.A.S.T. check.

F.A.S.T message 2020

FACE                      Is their face drooping on one side? Can they smile?
ARM                       Is one arm weak? Can they raise both arms?
SPEECH                   Is their speech jumbled or slurred? Can they speak at all?
TAKE ACTION        Call 111 immediately.


Other signs of stroke may include one, or a combination, of:

  • Weakness or numbness or paralysis of the face, arm or leg on either or both sides of the body

  • Dizziness, loss of balance or an unexplained fall

  • Loss of vision, sudden blurring or decreased vision in one or both eyes

  • Headache, usually severe and abrupt onset or unexplained change in the pattern of headaches

  • Difficulty swallowing

(Note: F.A.S.T. covers 80% of the main symptoms of stroke. It is not exhaustive. Other symptoms may present during a stroke as well as, or instead of, those listed above. Further information is available from your doctor. If you believe someone is having a stroke for whatever reason - call 111)



Stroke is always a Medical Emergency – act F.A.S.T.

Even if the symptoms go away quickly or don’t cause pain you should call 111 immediately.



F.A.S.T. - Māori and Pacific Communities

Since we first started the F.A.S.T. campaign it has had tremendous success, as the public’s awareness about the signs of stroke and the action to take has increased. However, we know that within Māori and Pacific communities awareness around stroke prevention and recognition is lower (compared with NZ Europeans), while numbers of those who experience stroke are disproportionately high.

This year, we are aiming to see even greater results by placing a priority focus on reaching Māori and Pacific communities and appealing to their cultural preferences.

The new campaign, in partnership with Te Hiringa Hauora/Health Promotion Agency and Ministry of Health, launched in July 2021.

Maori Pacific FAST graphic

The campaign features three stories about how someone close to them thought F.A.S.T. which dramatically improved their recovery and, in several cases, saved their life.

Phoenix runs a community focused gym in Whangarei and is very physically active. Last year he experienced his stroke while running with a larger group and thankfully two ladies who were part of it identified the signs and called for help immediately. Because of this and support from his whānau he is well on the road back to recovery.


Raoul suffered a stroke in the morning on his way to work a few years ago. He collapsed outside his car however his mum who is a nurse recognised the signs and called for help immediately. It has been a longer recovery for him with a number of long-term affects but without the fast action from his mother he would likely not be here today.


Va’alelei suffered a stroke while working outside last year. Initially he brushed it off and tried to continue to work however two of his co-workers identified the signs and proceeded to call an ambulance. It has had quite a serious effect on his health however doctors said without the quick and swift action he would likely not be alive.



Free resources

F.A.S.T. posters, flyers and fridge magnets are available from our National Office on strokenz@stroke.org.nz or your regional Stroke Foundation office.

You can download our resources as PDFs in English as well as a range of other languages in our Free resources’ section.  

Please help us today

Stroke devastates lives. 
Help us rebuild the lives of New Zealanders who experience the impact of stroke. Together, we can give them hope.