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 South Asians as it is crucially important that these groups know the symptoms of stroke and mini strokes as their risk is around double the general population in the UK.

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 South Asians where there is a higher prevalence of high blood pressure and diabetes 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.”

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

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.

downloadSanjeev Bhasker, comedian, actor and campaign supporter said “Family is a really important part of my life, and when a family member has a stroke, it can be devastating for the patient and the rest of the family. As a community we have a higher risk of stroke than the general population so knowing the signs to look out for is crucial for us. If you or a family member experiences any of the symptoms of a mini-stroke or stroke, please call 999, take immediate action – don’t put it off till tomorrow – it could save a loved one’s life.”

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.

Dr Pankaj Sharma, Consultant Neurologist at Imperial College London & Hammersmith Hospitals 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 reduce the devastating impact a stroke can have.”

Bhasker Patel, Emmerdale actor and campaign supporter said “I can’t stress how important your health is as you get older. As someone who is at higher risk of having a stroke because of my ethnicity, age and gender, I can only stress that if you have any of the symptoms, please don’t let male pride or fear get in the way of getting help. Mini-strokes are a warning of what may be around the corner – don’t ignore the symptoms. Call 999 – acting fast could save your life!”

For more information on the Act FAST campaign visit