Victorians are not FAST enough

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

It’s estimated more than 7,000 Victorians will have a stroke this year for the first time.

Worryingly, the Stroke Foundation survey found 41 percent of people in Victoria 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 Victoria State Manager Eamonn O’Toole said the survey indicated there is still a long way to go to ensure more Victorians learn, and can benefit from, this potentially life-saving message.

“I have heard many stories about incredible outcomes from stroke because someone knew the F.A.S.T. test and called triple zero (000) immediately,” Mr O’Toole 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 31 percent of Victorians 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 10 per cent of Victorians identify arm weakness as a sign of stroke, yet it is one of the most common signs,” Mr O’Toole 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 quickly by dialling triple zero (000) for an ambulance at the first sign.”

Cranbourne resident Tina Monserrate is grateful her husband and aunt recognised she was having a stroke while they were eating dinner in March 2020. They wasted no time calling triple zero (000).

“I had no idea, but my face was drooping and then I started slurring my words,” Tina said.

“I owe my life to their quick thinking, the paramedics and doctors. I was 49 years old at the time, proof that stroke can happen at any age. I now share the F.A.S.T. message with all of my family and friends. It is a simple action that could save a life.”

Stroke Foundation will continue to call on the state government to build on the work that has been done in stroke treatment and care in Victoria by investing in community F.A.S.T. education.

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.

Tina is in her hospital bed. She is trying to smile and she has facial droop.

Image: Survivor of stroke Tina Monserrate from Cranbourne credits the F.A.S.T. message for helping to save her life.

Key Findings

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

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

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

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

/Public Release. This material from the originating organization/author(s) may be of a point-in-time nature, edited for clarity, style and length. The views and opinions expressed are those of the author(s).View in full here.