Queenslanders are not FAST enough

A new survey has revealed greater awareness is needed in Queensland of the most common signs of stroke to save lives and reduce stroke-related disability.

It’s estimated more than 5,300 people will have a stroke this year in Queensland for the first time.

Worryingly, the Stroke Foundation survey found 36 percent of Queensland residents could not name any of the three most common signs.

These signs are highlighted in the acronym F.A.S.T. – Face (facial droop), Arms (inability to lift arms), Speech (slurred speech). The T stands for time to remind people that after seeing any of the signs of stroke, they need to immediately call 000 for an ambulance.

Stroke Foundation Queensland State Manager Andrea Sanders said the survey indicated there is still a long way to go to ensure more Queenslanders learn, and can benefit from, this potentially life-saving message.

“I hear stories about incredible outcomes from stroke because someone knew the F.A.S.T. test and called triple zero (000) immediately,” Ms Sanders said.

“Stroke is always a medical emergency. When stroke strikes, there is no time to lose. Around 1.9 million brain cells can die every minute. Prompt medical treatment can stop this damage.”

“If you can recognise a stroke, you can take the vital first step in getting a person, often a loved one, the emergency medical help they need. This provides the best chance of a good outcome.”

People are encouraged to use the F.A.S.T test if they suspect a stroke:

• Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?

• Arms: Can they lift both arms?

• Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?

• Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call triple zero (000) straight away.

The Stroke Foundation’s F.A.S.T. awareness survey also revealed only 32 percent of Queenslanders can recognise two of the three most common signs of stroke, with a worrying gap in people’s knowledge about the inability to lift both arms.

“Only nine per cent of people identify arm weakness as a sign of stroke, yet it is one of the most common signs,” Ms Sanders said.

“That is why we need to keep sharing the F.A.S.T message widely. It not only helps people remember the key signs to look for but prompts them to act as quickly as they can at the first sign.”

Brisbane resident George Yearby was playing touch rugby when he experienced a stroke last year at the age of 22.

“I thought I was having a migrane at first, but then I couldn’t move my right arm and leg and couldn’t speak. It was so frightening,” George said.

“I am so grateful someone called triple zero and I got to hospital quickly for treatment to break up the blood clot on my brain. As a result, I have made a great recovery with very few ongoing issues.

“I am proof stroke can happen at any age. I now share the F.A.S.T. message with all of my family and friends. It’s a simple action that could save a life.”

Stroke Foundation also delivers F.A.S.T. signs of stroke awareness in eight language groups; Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi and Korean. This is part of a broader consumer awareness and education program funded by the Australian Government. Targeted resources are also available for First Nations peoples.

Most strokes display one or more of the F.A.S.T. signs. Other signs are here.

The annual F.A.S.T awareness survey was conducted for Stroke Foundation by YouGov. The more than 5,200 Australians who participated included a weighted representation from every state and territory.

George kneeling down behind his Labrador. He is wearing a green stride 4 stroke running top

Image: Survivor of stroke George Yearby from Tarragindi credits the F.A.S.T. message for helping to save his life.

Key Findings, Queensland

• 36 percent cannot name any of the most common signs of stroke.

• 32 percent recognise two of the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke

• 74 percent incorrectly identified signs of a stroke, even when given options to choose from, confusing them with heart attack symptoms like chest pain.

• 81 percent would call triple zero (000) for stroke symptoms.

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