Dealing with a Stroke

This leaflet is created from first aid advice provided by St John Ambulance, the nation's leading first aid charity. This advice is no substitute for first aid training - find a training course near you.

A stroke is caused by a portion of the brain being starved of oxygen. This can be due to a burst blood vessel or a clot blocking a blood vessel. The lack of oxygen causes damage to the brain. The long-term effects of a stroke depend on what part of the brain is involved and on how much tissue is affected.

To recognise if someone has suffered a stroke, perform the FAST (Face, Arms, Speech, Time) test:

  1. Look at their face:
    • Ask them to smile.
    • If they have had a stroke, they may only be able to smile on one side; the other side of the mouth may droop.
  2. Ask them to raise both arms:
    • If they have had a stroke, they may only be able to lift one arm.
  3. Find out whether they can speak:
    • Ask them to speak.
    • If they have had a stroke, they may struggle to respond appropriately.
  4. Time to call 999/112:
    • Call 999/112 for emergency help.
    • Tell the operator you have used the FAST test and suspect a stroke.
    • Keep them comfortable and supported.

Note: these hints are no substitute for thorough knowledge of first aid. St John Ambulance holds first aid courses throughout the country.

This leaflet was taken from the St John Ambulance website: stroke. Copyright for this leaflet is with St John Ambulance.