At any sign of stroke think FAST

4 October 2018

It is due to the quick thinking of colleagues at Pultron Composites that Thomas Te Kira will one day lead a near normal life once again. Mr Te Kira suffered a stroke at work in February after he tripped on a rod during a night shift.

“My arm was limp and once side of my face was drooping” said Mr Te Kira. ‘I had no idea what was happening but my workmates took me to the smoko room and called the ambulance.’

A short while after the stroke, Mr Te Kira was at the hospital receiving the clot-busting therapy called Thrombolysis. ‘I just wanted to get back to work, but because my workmates acted as quickly as they did, I was able to get the medication in time, I am one of the lucky ones really’.

Thrombolysis needs to be given within 4 hours of a stroke to dissolve the clot in the brain and restore blood flow to avoid permanent damage to the brain. After arriving at hospital, there are scans and evaluations required before clearance can be given to receive the therapy. Unfortunately, only around 10 per cent of stroke sufferers arrive early enough to receive the drug in time.  

Mr Te Kira’s stroke came suddenly and was totally unexpected ‘Before my stroke I had never had any major health complications. The doctor told me that I must have suffered a mini-stroke before my actual stroke, which I can’t remember, but I do recall a workmate telling me that I was slurring my speech.’

A mini-stroke is a warning sign to a stroke and although symptoms are similar to a stroke (face drooping, arms weak, speech slurred) they are often gone within 24 hours and they leave no permanent damage.

According to Hauora Tairāwhiti specialist Dr Intesar Malik ‘A mini-stroke is like when the engine light of your car comes on, it is your body telling you that something is going to happen if you don’t get yourself checked out’.

‘A mini-stroke is as serious as any other stroke, and people should go immediately to the ED department for treatment’ said Dr Malik.

A stroke is a brain attack! Is it a stroke? Learn FAST and call 111 immediately if you suspect a stroke!

The FAST campaign encourages everyone to learn the key signs of stroke and to act FAST by calling 111 if they suspect a stroke. Prompt action can save lives - as well improve recovery.

It is vital to recognise when someone is having a stroke and to start treatment as soon as possible, because the sooner medical treatment begins, the more likely brain damage can be reduced and a better outcome achieved.

That's because Time is Brain - the quicker a clot can be dissolved or removed, the less damage is done, and the better the chance of a strong recovery.

A stroke is a brain attack - it's very serious. The symptoms might show on the face, arm or in speech, but it's the brain that's being damaged.

Even if the signs seem to come right by themselves, call 111. Don't call your doctor, or drive yourself - get help immediately. Ambulance staff want to hear from you if you recognise the FAST signs - call 111 and tell them it's a stroke. You can learn more about what a stroke is here.

What are the signs of stroke?

The signs and symptoms of stroke usually come on suddenly. The type of signs experienced will depend on what area of the brain is affected.

Common first signs of stroke include:

  • Sudden weakness and/or numbness of face,
  • Sudden weakness of the arm (and/or leg)
  • Difficulty speaking, or lost voice
  • It's believed that the above FAST symptoms are present in 85% of strokes

How can you tell if someone is having a stroke?

By learning to recognise the symptoms of stroke you could save a life!

FACE                    - Is their face drooping on one side? Can they smile?
ARM                     - Is one arm weak? Can they raise both arms?
SPEECH               - Is their speech jumbled or slurred? Can they speak at all?
TAKE ACTION     - Call 111 immediately.

Stroke is always a Medical Emergency - Act FAST

Even if the symptoms go away quickly or don’t cause pain you should call 111 immediately.