Resource: First Aid & CPR

Recognising and responding to a suspected Stroke

One in six people will have a stroke at some time in their life. Most are over 65, but stroke can strike at any age. Even young people and children can be affected..

What is a Stroke?

A stroke occurs when a blood vessel, which is carrying oxygen and nutrients to the brain, bursts or is blocked by a clot. This causes an interruption of the blood supply to part of the brain. This can damage or destroy brain cells which will affect body functions. For example, if a stroke damages the part of the brain that controls limb movement, a person’s ability to move an arm or leg may be affected. A stroke can also affect mental processes such as how people feel, think, communicate, or learn.

Signs & Symptoms
  • Difficulty with mobility of limbs
  • Speech impairment
  • Blurring or loss of vision in one or both eyes
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of balance/ co-ordination
  • Facial droop
  • Sudden or severe headaches
Recognising a Stroke - FAST

If you suspect someone is having a stroke you should perform a FAST assessment. This will help give you the clarity & confidence you may need, to call for an ambulance.

  • F for Face – is the casualties face drooping on one side. Ask them to smile, does their face move equally?
  • A is for Arms – does the casualty have a weakness on one side of their body. Ask them to raise both arms above their shoulders, is one arm much weaker than the other?
  • S is for Speech – does the casualty have difficulty speaking to you? Ask them how they feel? Is their speech stuttered or slurred?
  • T is for Time – If the casualty has failed any of the above tests, do not delay and call 999 or 112 immediately.

The most important action to take is to make the decision to call for an ambulance.

Whilst they are on the way to the scene you can:

  • Reassure the casualty and keep them comfortable.
  • Avoid giving them anything to eat or drink as they may find it difficult to swallow and could choke.
  • Monitor their responsiveness. If they are deteriorating from A or V to P or U, prepare to treat an unresponsive casualty i.e. recovery position and monitor breathing.
  • If breathing ceases, start CPR.
CPGs - Stroke

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