Health, fitness and Food

PHE encourages black people of African and Caribbean origin to act FAST if they experience stroke symptoms

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  • Annual ‘Act FAST’ campaign launches to highlight the symptoms of stroke
  • 10,000 strokes could be prevented annually if mini strokes were spotted and treated[i]
  • Black people of African and Caribbean origin are twice as likely to have a stroke than the general UK population[ii]
  • Just over a third would recognise the warning signs which could mean a major stroke is imminent[iii]


[February 2nd Feb] Public Health England is today launching the annual ‘Act FAST’ campaign, which highlights the common symptoms of stroke and mini strokes and encourages people to call 999 if they notice the symptoms in others or experience them themselves.


The campaign specifically targets Africans and Caribbeans as it is crucially important that these groups know the symptoms of stroke and mini strokes as their risk is double the general population in the UK.


A mini stroke has similar symptoms to a full stroke, except that these symptoms last for a much shorter amount of time.[iv] 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.[v]


Early intervention following a mini stroke can greatly reduce the risk of having another stroke.


However, while 59% of people surveyed cite stroke as one of the top three conditions they are concerned about behind cancer, new research reveals today that less than half (45%) would call 999 if they experienced the symptoms of a mini stroke.


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.


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.


Professor Kevin Fenton, Director of Health and Wellbeing at Public Health England said:

“The impressive results from previous Act FAST campaigns show just how important it is that we continue to raise awareness of the symptoms of stroke especially amongst high risk ethnic groups like Africans and Caribbeans where there is a higher prevalence of high blood pressure, diabetes and sickle cell which are significant risk factors that cause strokes.”


“Highlighting the importance of treating mini strokes with the same urgency as strokes can also make a huge difference – around 10,000 strokes could be prevented annually if mini strokes were treated in time. That’s why the Act FAST campaign encourages people experiencing stroke-like symptoms to call 999.”


Dawn Carr, Community Development Project Leader at the Stroke Association, said:

“We know that sadly, far too many people dismiss their early warning signs of stroke and delay calling 999. Stroke is a medical emergency and getting the right treatment fast can save lives.


“Through this latest campaign we hope as many people as possible know how to act FAST and help more people make a good recovery from stroke.”


Stephen K Amos, comedian and campaign supporter said:

“Strokes are no joking matter. The risk of stroke in the black community is twice as likely as the general UK population, that’s why we need to be more aware of the signs to look out for. So, if you take one thing I say seriously – it’s this: If you experience any of the symptoms, no matter for how long, treat it as an emergency and call 999. If you receive medical assistance straight away you’ve got a much better chance of recovery – acting fast could save your life.”


For more information on the Act FAST campaign visit

[i]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.


[iii] Stroke National Campaign Survey (1,040 interviews with adults aged 16+ in England, on the TNS online omnibus between 08 January 2015 and 12 January 2015)



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