How is a stroke diagnosed?
Face Arm Speech Test (FAST) (popularized in recent TV campaign) is very helpful in recognizing the early signs of a potential stroke:
Facial weakness: Can the person smile? Has their mouth or an eye drooped?
Arm weakness: Can the person raise both arms?
Speech problems: Can the person speak clearly and understand what you say? Time to call 999.
If the symptoms are transient the patient may have had a TIA and should be seen as soon as possible by the GP or the closest A/E department
The important thing is to recognise the early signs and call 999. Make sure that the patient is conscious and offer basic life support if the patient becomes unconscious and you are trained or know how to do it. Ask for help if possible. While waiting for the ambulance it is important to stay with the patient, as often they may have difficulties communicating or moving, and obviously will feel very vulnerable. Do not try to offer them water or fluids. Better to wait for the experts. If the patient is sitting, do not try to move them, as they may fall and injure themselves and anyone trying to assist them. If they are lying on the bed or anywhere else, it is important that they are turned onto the “recovery position” and make sure that they are safe from any hazards close by, depending on the circumstances of the incident and where they are.