Knowledge of the FAST signs of stroke lagging in non English speaking communities

November 25, 2021
Greater awareness of the most common signs of stroke is needed for people with linguistically diverse backgrounds in Australia to save lives and reduce stroke-related disability. 

A Stroke Foundation survey has revealed that while 30 percent of Australians are able to name at least two of the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke, the figure is just 14 percent for people who speak a language other than English.
The F.A.S.T. acronym stands for Face (facial droop), Arms (inability to lift arms) and Speech (slurred speech). The T stands for time to remind people that after seeing any of the signs of stroke, they need to call triple zero (000) for an ambulance.   

The survey also found, alarmingly, that only 58 percent of people who speak a language other than English would call triple zero (000) as their first action if someone was having a stroke compared with 79 percent of English-speaking residents. 

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer Sharon McGowan said the survey results indicate there is still a long way to go to ensure all Australians learn this potentially life-saving message. 

“Stroke strikes the brain – the human control centre and it is always a medical emergency,” Ms McGowan said.  

“When a stroke occurs, there is no time to lose. Around 1.9 million brain cells can die every minute.  However, it is possible to make a meaningful recovery from stroke if a patient receives the right treatment at the right time.  

“This is why it is so important to be able to recognise a stroke. You can take the vital first step in getting a person, often a loved one, the medical help they need by calling triple zero (000) at the first sign.”

People are encouraged to use the F.A.S.T test if they suspect a stroke:
• Face: Check their face. Has their mouth drooped?
• Arms: Can they lift both arms?
• Speech: Is their speech slurred? Do they understand you?
• Time is critical. If you see any of these signs call triple zero (000) straight away.

It’s estimated more than 27,400 Australians will have a stroke for the first time this year. It can happen to anyone of any ethnicity and at any age. 

Stroke Foundation is dedicated to increasing awareness of the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke in-language. It delivers awareness in Greek, Italian, Mandarin, Vietnamese, Arabic, Cantonese, Hindi and Korean. This is part of a broader consumer awareness and education program funded by the Australian Government. Targeted resources are also available for First Nations peoples.

Most strokes display one or more of the F.A.S.T. signs. Other signs are here.

The annual F.A.S.T awareness survey was conducted for Stroke Foundation by YouGov. The more than 5,200 Australians who participated included a weighted representation from every state and territory.