Act FAST – Call 999

Act fast if you spot signs of stroke to prevent death or permanent disability


Public Health England and the Stroke Association are urging South Asians to Act FAST if they spot signs of stroke with the aim of saving lives and improving outcomes for survivors. A person loses 2 million nerve cells every minute that they do not receive medical treatment during a stroke and if left untreated, a stroke could result in permanent disability or death:

  • 110,000 strokes each year make it the fourth largest cause of death in England
  • Stroke is the largest cause of disability in the UK, with 85% of people requiring physiotherapy after a stroke.

The latest campaign, launched to coincide with World Stroke Day will urge the public to call 999 if they notice any of the stroke symptoms in others or experience them themselves:

Facial weakness – has their face fallen on one side?
Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech problems – can the person speak clearly and is their speech slurred?
Time to call 999.

Nerve cells are the core components of the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system and the more that are lost, the greater the chance of slurred speech, paralysis and permanent disability. The Act FAST campaign urges people to dial 999 if they spot signs of a stroke so that the person having a stroke can get to hospital within the vital three-hour window. This results in a greater chance of recovery as well as reduced likelihood of permanent disability and lesser need for extensive rehabilitation.

“Asians are around twice as likely to have a stroke than white people so we need to do double the work, not only to reduce the risk of stroke through a better and healthier lifestyle, but also to improve awareness of the symptoms.”


Research from the Stroke Association illustrates the devastating impact of stroke, which causes a greater range of disabilities than any other condition in the UK. Over half of all survivors have a disability and more than a third are left dependent on others for everyday activities. When it comes to rehabilitation, 85% of stroke survivors require physiotherapy, 80% need occupational therapy, and 47% need speech and language therapy. The faster patients receive immediate medical treatment, the better the recovery.

Since the Act FAST campaign launched in 2009, an additional 41,382 have got to hospital within the vital three-hour window, meaning that those affected by stroke receive the immediate medical treatment required.

BBC presenters Sunny & Shay Grewal and campaign supporters said:

“It is so important to be aware of stroke symptoms and Act Fast – Sunny’s great uncle is a living example of the positive impact of this campaign.”
Shay continues:

“Sunny’s cousin realised that his grandfather was having a stroke because he had seen the advertising. Not only did knowing the symptoms and acting FAST save his life, but it improved the quality and speed of his recovery. ”

Dr Ann Hoskins is Director of Children, Young People and Families with Public Health England, said:

“Every minute really does count when it comes to stroke and delaying treatment can have serious consequences. We are urging everyone to stay alert to the signs of stroke and to seek immediate medical attention if they notice any of the symptoms in others. The faster a stroke is treated, the better the chances of a good recovery.”

Jon Barrick, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association said:

“Acting FAST can help reduce the devastating impact a stroke can have. We know that sadly, far too many people dismiss the early warning signs of stroke and delay calling 999. It’s easy to ignore these signs as a ‘funny turn’, but stroke is a medical emergency and getting the right treatment fast can save lives and reduce the devastation that stroke can bring.

“You are more likely to survive a stroke, and make a better recovery, if your symptoms are spotted and you get treated in a stroke unit as quickly as possible. We need to Act FAST because time lost is brain lost.”

Sunetra Sarker, who plays Dr Zoe Hanna in BBC Drama Casualty and campaign supporter said:

“Playing the role I do, we have storylines about stroke and coming from a medical family background, I guess I am lucky to have been made aware of all the tell-tale signs – but it’s clear that there is a lot of work to be done. Let’s share the Act FAST message with as many people as we can.”

Chef Tony Singh and campaign supporter said:

“The statistics are shocking, and when you realise that every minute really does count, then we need to make sure that everyone in our network and community knows what to do if they see even one of the symptoms of a stroke.

“Asians are around twice as likely to have a stroke than white people so we need to do double the work, not only to reduce the risk of stroke through a better and healthier lifestyle, but also to improve awareness of the symptoms.”


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