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Stroke & TIA

A stroke is a medical emergency. It happens when the blood flow to part of your brain is cut off. This can cause your brain cells to become damaged or die. If you think you or anyone else may be having a stroke, call 999 immediately.

What is a Stroke?

If the blood flow to the brain is interrupted, brain cells can get damaged because they aren’t getting the oxygen supply they need. A stroke can affect you in different ways, depending on which part of the brain hasn’t received the blood supply. This can affect your speech, as well as the way you think and move.

Signs of a Stroke: 

Act F.A.S.T to recognise the signs:

  • Facial weakness – can they smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?

  • Arm weakness – can they raise both arms?

  • Speech problems – can they speak clearly and can they understand what you're saying?

  • Time – it's time to call 999 immediately if you see any of these symptoms

It’s called F.A.S.T because timing is critical if you're having a stroke. You could lose millions of nerve cells for every minute without treatment. The longer you wait, the less chance of speech, movement and abilities being returned to what they were. Acting F.A.S.T really is lifesaving.

Types of Stroke:

  • Ischaemic strokes happen when an artery supplying blood to your brain is blocked by a blood clot.

  • Haemorrhagic strokes happen when a blood vessel ruptures (or bursts), causing a bleed in the brain. This means less blood gets to the surrounding brain cells causing them to die.

  • Mini-strokes, or transient ischaemic attacks (TIAs), happen when there’s an interruption in blood flow to part of the brain for a short time causing symptoms, such as temporary speech loss. TIA’s usually resolve after a few seconds or minutes.

If you think someone is having any of these symptoms you should call 999 immediately.

How is a Stroke treated in hospital?

As soon as possible, you’ll be taken for a brain scan. If you've had a stroke, you'll be closely monitored and depending on the type of stroke you may be given clot-busting medication (known as thrombolysis). The amount of time you stay in hospital depends on the type and severity of your stroke, your treatment, your general health and how quickly you recover.


It’s common to feel anxious, angry and upset  after having a stroke. Talk to your healthcare professionals and let them know if you want them to repeat anything. You can also ask for help and if you do they will discuss with you and your family if they feel think you’ll need support when you go home.

More information:

For more information about Strokes and TIAs, you can find guides here published by the British Heart Foundation the NHS, or the Stroke Association UK.

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