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​Act FAST if you experience stroke symptoms​

NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group is supporting Public Health England's annual 'Act Fast' campaign which aims to highlight the common symptoms of stroke and mini strokes.

The campaign, which this year has a focus on mini strokes, encourages people to call 999 if they notice the symptoms in others or experience them themselves.

Dr Marc Rowland, Chair at NHS Lewisham Clinical Commissioning Group, said 10,000 strokes could be prevented annually if mini strokes were spotted and treated[1].

"A mini stroke has similar symptoms to a full stroke, except that these symptoms last for a much shorter amount of time," he said.  

"It's vital to raise awareness of the importance of treating mini strokes with the same urgency as strokes because treating them early can save lives.

"Without immediate treatment, around one in five of those who experience a mini stroke will go on to have a full stroke within a few days.[2]"

The campaign urges people to Act FAST if they notice any of the following symptoms, even if they disappear within a short space of time:

  • Face – has their face fallen on one side? Can they smile?
  • Arms – can they raise both their arms and keep them there?
  • Speech – is their speech slurred? If they notice any of these symptoms it is
  • Time – time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs

Statistics show that only 33% people in London would recognize the warning signs of a mini stroke[3].

A total of 51% would seek urgent medical help if they experienced early warning signs of a stroke.

Of those surveyed, 51% also cited stroke as one of the top three conditions they are most concerned about.  

Prevalence figures for the Stroke Association show that 13,500 people in London suffer a stroke each year.

Since the Act FAST campaign launched in 2009, an additional 38,600 people have got to hospital within the vital three-hour window meaning that stroke sufferers receive the immediate medical treatment required.

This not only results in a greater chance of better recovery, but since the campaign launch over 4,000 fewer people have become disabled as a result of a stroke.

Notes to editors

  1. A mini stroke is also known as a transient ischaemic attack (TIA).  It is caused by a temporary disruption in the blood supply to part of the brain.
  2. A stroke is a brain attack which happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain.
  3.  Additional symptoms of stroke and mini stroke include
  • Sudden loss of vision or blurred vision in one or both eyes
  • Sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body
  • Sudden memory loss or confusion
  • Sudden dizziness, unsteadiness or a sudden fall, especially with any of the other symptoms.    

​    4. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability.

    ​5. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at


[1] Rothwell PM et al (2007) `Effect of urgent treatment of transient ischaemic attack and minor stroke on early recurrent stroke (EXPRESS study): a prospective population-based sequential comparison'. The Lancet, 370 (9596):1432-1442  


[3] Statistics from the Stroke PR OnLineBus Survey