World Stroke Day

News Release

South Asians urged to call 999 if they spot signs of stroke to prevent death or permanent disability

[October 29 2015] Public Health England and the Stroke Association are urging South Asians to Act FAST if they spot signs of stroke with the aim of saving lives and improving outcomes for survivors. A person loses 2 million nerve cells every minute that they do not receive medical treatment during a stroke[i] and if left untreated, a stroke could result in permanent disability or death:

  • 110,000 strokes each year make it the fourth largest cause of death in England[ii]
  • Stroke is the largest cause of disability in the UK, with 85% of people requiring physiotherapy after a stroke3.

The latest campaign is launched to coincide with World Stroke Day will urge the public to call 999 if they notice any of the stroke symptoms in others or experience them themselves:

Facial weakness - has their face fallen on one side?
Arm weakness - can the person raise both arms and keep them there?
Speech problems - can the person speak clearly and is their speech slurred?
Time to call 999.

Nerve cells are the core components of the brain, spinal cord and central nervous system and the more that are lost, the greater the chance of slurred speech, paralysis and permanent disability. The Act FAST campaign urges people to dial 999 if they spot signs of a stroke so that the person having a stroke can get to hospital within the vital three-hour window. This results in a greater chance of recovery as well as reduced likelihood of permanent disability and lesser need for extensive rehabilitation. 

Research from the Stroke Association illustrates the devastating impact of stroke, which causes a greater range of disabilities than any other condition in the UK. Over  half of all survivors have a disability and more than a third are left dependent on others for everyday activities.[iii],[iv] When it comes to rehabilitation, 85% of stroke survivors require physiotherapy, 80% need occupational therapy, and 47% need speech and language therapy.[v] The faster patients receive immediate medical treatment, the better the recovery.

Since the Act FAST campaign launched in 2009, an additional 41,382 have got to hospital within the vital three-hour window, meaning that those affected by stroke receive the immediate medical treatment required.

BBC presenters Sunny & Shay Grewal and campaign supporters said:

“It is so important to be aware of stroke symptoms and Act Fast – Sunny’s great uncle is a living example of the positive impact of this campaign.”

Shay continues:

“Sunny’s cousin realised that his grandfather was having a stroke because he had seen the advertising. Not only did knowing the symptoms and acting FAST save his life, but it improved the quality and speed of his recovery. ”

Dr Ann Hoskins is Director of Children, Young People and Families with Public Health England, said:

“Every minute really does count when it comes to stroke and delaying treatment can have serious consequences. We are urging everyone to stay alert to the signs of stroke and to seek immediate medical attention if they notice any of the symptoms in others. The faster a stroke is treated, the better the chances of a good recovery.”

Jon Barrick, Chief Executive at the Stroke Association said:

“Acting FAST can help reduce the devastating impact a stroke can have. We know that sadly, far too many people dismiss the early warning signs of stroke and delay calling 999. It’s easy to ignore these signs as a ‘funny turn’, but stroke is a medical emergency and getting the right treatment fast can save lives and reduce the devastation that stroke can bring.

“You are more likely to survive a stroke, and make a better recovery, if your symptoms are spotted and you get treated in a stroke unit as quickly as possible. We need to Act FAST because time lost is brain lost.”

Sunetra Sarker, who plays Dr Zoe Hannah in BBC Drama Casualty and campaign supporter said:

“Playing the role I do, we have storylines about stroke and coming from a medical family background, I guess I am lucky to have been made aware of all the tell-tale signs – but it’s clear that there is a lot of work to be done. Let’s make World Stroke Day the day to share the Act FAST message with as many people as we can.”

Chef Tony Singh and campaign supporter said:

“The statistics are shocking, and when you realise that every minute really does count, then we need to make sure that everyone in our network and community knows what to do if they see even one of the symptoms of a stroke.


“Asians are around twice as likely to have a stroke than white people so we need to do double the work, not only to reduce the risk of stroke through a better and healthier lifestyle, but also to improve awareness of the symptoms.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Stroke Association is a charity that provides advice and practical support to stroke survivors and their loved ones. For more information, visit or call 0303 303 3100.


  1. The Act FAST campaign will run nationally from 19 October to 15 November. The campaign will consist of TV and Video on Demand advertising supported by digital search. A separate strand of BME activity including TV and press advertising will specifically target South Asian, Black Caribbean and Black African audiences


  1. On World Stroke Day on 29 October, video content, an infographic, case studies, and campaign spokespeople will be available
  2. From 26 October – 01 November, Stroke Association will launch a new fundraising initiative ‘Give a Hand’ which will see people across the UK complete an everyday activity using the hand they wouldn’t normally use
  3. The Act FAST campaign:
  • 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?
  • Time – time to call 999 if you see any single one of these signs
  1. 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. There are around 152,000 strokes in the UK every year and it is the leading cause of severe adult disability. There are over 1.2 million people in the UK living with the effects of stroke.
  2. 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.   

8.The NHS Health Check programme assesses a person’s risk of developing stroke as well as heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia. It presents an opportunity for eligible men and women aged 40-74 to reduce their chances of developing these serious conditions. If a person has one of these conditions it increases their chances of getting another, so tackling all risk factors such as exercise, diet and smoking can have a huge impact. More information can be found at

9.Public Health England exists to protect and improve the nation's health and wellbeing, and reduce health inequalities. It does this through world-class science, knowledge and intelligence, advocacy, partnerships and the delivery of specialist public health services. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. Website: Twitter: @PHE_uk, Facebook:

10.Stroke Association is a charity. We believe in life after stroke and together we can conquer stroke. We work directly with stroke survivors and their families and carers, with health and social care professionals and with scientists and researchers. We campaign to improve stroke care and support people to make the best recovery they can. We fund research to develop new treatments and ways of preventing stroke. The Stroke Helpline (0303 303 3100) provides information and support on stroke. More information can be found at

For further information, images or interviews, please contact:

07415 730 881

07932 709 312

[i] Saver, J.L. Time is brain quantified: Stroke. American Heart Association, 2006 37: 263-266

[ii]  Townsend, N., Wickramasinghe, K., Bhatnagar, P., Smolina, K., Nichols, M., Leal, J., Luengo-

Fernandez, R., Rayner, M. (2012). Coronary heart disease statistics 2012 edition. British Heart

Foundation: London

[iii] Stroke Association. State of the nation – Stoke Statistics January 2015. Stroke Association, 2015.

[iv] How good is stroke care? First SSNAP Annual Report. Care received from April 2013 to March 2014

[v] Campbell, J. How good is stroke care? First SSNAP Annual Report: Care received from April 2013 to March 2014. Royal College of Physicians, Report number: 1, 2014