Shocking new data reveals Forrest is not F.A.S.T. enough

Stroke Foundation

New Stroke Foundation data has revealed more than a quarter of West Australians living in the Forrest region would not know if they or someone they love was having a stroke.

Every year, Stroke Foundation surveys thousands of Australians on their awareness of the most common signs and risks of stroke. The National Awareness Survey, conducted by YouGov, has revealed that nearly two in five (39%) Forrest residents could not recall any of the F.A.S.T. signs of stroke.

The survey also revealed a drop in awareness compared to the previous year, with 26% of people living in Forrest being able to recall at least two of the signs unprompted, compared with 43% in 2022.

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy, says this is not the right direction the statistics should be going.

“When a stroke strikes, every minute counts. Stroke attacks the brain, which controls our movements, speech, understanding and emotions. Quick action to call an ambulance can mean the difference between life and death, or can mean severe disability is avoided,” she said.

“The first step to ensuring better outcomes from stroke is getting to hospital quickly, and that means recognising the F.A.S.T. signs and calling triple zero (000) straight away. The more people who know the F.A.S.T. message, the better. Please learn it and share it with your friends, family, and colleagues.”

In some positive news, the survey found prompted awareness of all three signs has increased in Forrest this year, with recognition of the inability to lift arms as a sign of stroke increasing by 7%, and speech difficulties rising by 5%.

The survey also measures Australians’ awareness of the modifiable risk factors of stroke. It found Forrest residents knowledge of the key lifestyle and health risk factors leading to stroke has increased this year. It revealed awareness of smoking as a risk factor for stroke increased by 21%, while high blood pressure as a risk factor increased by 9%.

“This is heartening to see considering 80% of strokes are preventable. By knowing what the risks are, we can make changes to our lives that decrease our chances of having a stroke.”

One of the leading causes of stroke is high blood pressure. In the Forrest electorate, 31,754 people are living with high blood pressure.

“I cannot stress enough the importance of having regular health and blood pressure checks to firstly identify if you have high blood pressure, and then work with your GP on ways to reduce your blood pressure and control it.”

Dr Murphy is urging all Forrest residents to come together as a community and learn the F.A.S.T. acronym if not for themselves, then for a neighbour, a loved one or a friend.

“If just one person in every household and workplace knows the F.A.S.T acronym, it can be the difference between someone surviving the stroke and living well after stroke, or having a long-term disability. Sharing that message may just save a life.”

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