Is it a stroke?
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.
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
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.
Common first signs of stroke include:
- Sudden drooping, weakness and/or numbness of face,
- Sudden weakness of the arm (and/or leg)
- Difficulty speaking, words jumbled, or lost voice
- F.A.S.T. symptoms are present in 85% of strokes
How can you tell if someone is having a stroke?
By learning to recognise the symptoms of stroke you could save a life! Watch the video above, or look at this graphic. Learn the F.A.S.T. check.
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 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.
F.A.S.T. posters, flyers and fridge magnets are available from our National Office on
You can download our resources as PDFs in English as well as a range of other languages in our ’ section.
We know FAST works, because we hear from New Zealanders who owe their life or recovery to FAST. Many of these people never expected to have a stroke. But when it came, either they or someone close to them knew what to do.
Auckland mum Angela Hood had a stroke while driving. Luckily police recognised her symptoms, took action and got her to hospital fast, so she could recover.
Angela got in touch to tell us her amazing story. You can watch a Newshub video about her experience .
Video from Ministry of Health: Stroke expert Dr Anna Ranta talks about the importance of the FAST campaign message - and the real difference it can make.
You can watch social media star Johnny Tuivasa-Scheck's great short video about F.A.S.T. from the 2018 campaign here: