Signs of a Stroke

“Every year, there are approximately 152,000 strokes in the UK. That’s one stroke every three and a half minutes”

The Stroke Association


Strokes are the leading cause of adult disability in the UK. They can effect anyone, but are more common in older people.

A stroke changes lives – it can have a huge impact on both the patient and their family. It is important to know the signs and symptoms of a stroke, so that if you or someone you know suffers from a stroke, you know exactly what you are dealing with.

It is also helpful to know what practical, emotional and financial support is available to you.

Are you aware of the out-of-hours primary care services available in East Berkshire? 


What is a Stroke?

 “A stroke is a brain attack”

The Stroke Association


A stroke is a medical emergency.

It is caused by a disruption in the blood supply to the brain. Strokes caused by blockages (e.g blood clots) are known as “ischaemic strokes”, while strokes caused by bleeds are “haemorrhagic.” Without blood, your brain can suffer irreversible damage.

The extent of the damage a stroke causes on the brain depends on which part is affected. A stroke can therefore affect body function, as well as thought processes and emotional responses. It can cause depression, anxiety and changes in personality.


The Signs of a Stroke – Act F.A.S.T

The signs of a stroke vary from person to person, but all signs usually come on quickly. Again, your symptoms will depend on the part of the brain that is affected. The main symptoms to look out for can be simplified into this guide:


Face                        Arms                   Speech                  Time


Face – Are there any changes to the appearance of the face? Has one side dropped noticeably? The person may not be able to smile or their mouth or eye on one side may have dropped.


Arms – Can the person lift both arms in front of them? If they can’t, all of a sudden, this could be a sign of a stroke.


Speech – The person’s speech may be slurred or garbled, and their words may be indecipherable. At worst, the person may not be able to speak at all.


Time – The quicker you act, the less damage that may occur to the patient’s brain. If you suspect a stroke, call 999 immediately. Time is of the essence.


The FAST test identifies the main symptoms, but there are many other symptoms of a stroke that you should look out for – especially if you are living with a high-risk individual (diabetes, high blood-pressure) – including complete paralysis, loss of vision, dizziness, confusion, difficulty swallowing.


What Should You Do?

If you require medical advice or primary care in Berkshire outside of surgery hours, contact one of our out-of-hours medical centres.

However, if you suspect that you or someone else is having a stroke, phone 999 immediately and ask for an ambulance.