FAST stroke campaign makes a difference

News article

23 March 2018

The number of people who could correctly identify two key signs of a stroke increased following a Ministry of Health funded public awareness campaign.

The Clinical Leader Stroke, Associate Professor Anna Ranta says the 2017 Face, Arm, Speech and Time (FAST) campaign focused on educating people to spot the signs of a stroke and get help quickly. 

“An evaluation found the number of people who could correctly identify two key signs of a stroke had increased.

“In a sample of 750 people surveyed after the campaign, 76 percent knew that weakness of the face, arm or leg might indicate a stroke, up from 61 percent. Those who identified speech difficulties as a stroke indicator also rose from 51 percent to 61 percent following the campaign.

“Before last year’s campaign, St John received on average 151 calls to 111 each week for suspected stroke. This increased to 199 calls a week during the campaign, and for the three months after the campaign averaged 165 calls per week.

“The fact that more people are calling 111 when they suspect someone is having a stroke is really important because time is critical. Recognising what’s happening and getting medical help fast can save lives and dramatically improve recovery,” says Associate Professor Ranta.

FAST is an easy way to remember and identify the most common symptoms of a stroke. FAST stands for Face, Arm, Speech and Time – they indicate sudden changes such as a drooping face, loss of arm strength, slurred speech, and the importance of losing no time in calling an ambulance for help to get to the hospital FAST.  

The FAST campaign, developed by the Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Agency and the Stroke Foundation, has been running since 2015 following a survey showing most New Zealanders didn’t know any signs of stroke.  

About 9000 New Zealanders have a stroke each year. 

For more information see the Your Health Stroke page.