South Australians urged to arm themselves with stroke knowledge

Stroke Foundation

Alarming new data has revealed South Australians are going backwards when it comes to recognising one of the key signs of stroke.  

Stroke Foundation’s most recent F.A.S.T. National Awareness Survey found just eight per cent of people living in Adelaide are aware that the inability to lift both arms is a sign of stroke, compared to nine per cent in 2022.  In regional South Australia, only 10 per cent of people know this is a key indicator of stroke, and this number has not shifted since 2022. 

The survey found South Australia is lagging behind most other states and territories, while Adelaide is falling behind other capital cities like Melbourne and Hobart.

According to National Stroke Audit data, close to 60 per cent of Australian stroke patients present to hospital with weakness in one arm. Despite this, it remains the least known sign of stroke featured in the F.A.S.T. acronym which is used around the world. 

The F.A.S.T. acronym highlights the three most common signs of stroke (face, arms, speech). The T stands for time as a reminder that there is no time to waste – stroke is always a medical emergency. 

Stroke Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Dr Lisa Murphy said this simply isn’t good enough.  

“Unfortunately, our latest survey has revealed South Australians are among the worst in the country for recognising the key signs of stroke,” Dr Murphy said.  

“Not knowing the signs can cost lives and lead to a delay in getting time-critical treatment. A stroke is a brain attack, and brain cells die with every passing minute. Early intervention can be the difference between life or death and a good recovery or lifelong disability.” 

When compared to the other two key stroke signs used in the F.A.S.T. acronym, South Australian residents’ recognition of facial droop is 40 per cent and speech difficulties is 53 per cent. 

“If we can teach people the importance of getting medical treatment for stroke urgently, we will see more people leaving hospital with good outcomes rather than lifelong disabilities,” she said.  

“By knowing the signs, you recognise a stroke sooner, call an ambulance sooner, and get emergency medical treatment sooner.”  

This April, Stroke Foundation is asking Australians to think ‘A’ for arms and equip themselves with the life-saving knowledge of recognising this key stroke sign. Stroke Foundation is urging all South Australians to remember that Face, Arms, Speech and Time make up the F.A.S.T. acronym, and that acting fast to get emergency treatment is critical when a stroke strikes. 

An Australian has a stroke every 19 minutes, and almost 35,000 survivors of stroke live in South Australia.  

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