Symptom check FAST

How do I recognize a stroke and what should I do immediately? Most strokes can be recognized within a few seconds using the FAST symptom check.

Depending on the severity, signs of a stroke can be one symptom or several symptoms occurring at the same time, for example:

  • Sudden weakness, paralysis or loss of sensation, usually only on one side of the body
  • Sudden visual impairment, such as blindness in one half of the visual field or in one eye, as well as double vision
  • Sudden speech disorders or difficulty understanding what is being said
  • Sudden severe dizziness that makes walking impossible, sometimes accompanied by nausea and vomiting
  • Sudden gait disturbance, balance or coordination disorder
  • Sudden, unusually severe headache
  • Sudden clouding of consciousness or unconsciousness

Sometimes a stroke announces itself with transient circulatory disorders of the brain (transient ischemic attack, TIA), also known as a stroke or streak. The stroke symptoms then only last a few minutes and disappear again. In this case, too, it is important to go to a hospital with stroke specialists immediately. This is because there is a high probability that a real stroke will follow shortly after a TIA.


F – A – S – T stands for Face (face), Arms (arms), Speech (speech) and Time (time).

  • Face: Ask the person to smile.
    Is the face distorted on one side?
  • Arms: Ask the person to stretch their arms forward and turn their palms upwards.
    Can the arms be raised? Do they sink or do the palms turn inwards?
  • Speech: Have the person repeat a simple sentence.
    Is she unable to do this or does her voice sound washed out?
  • Time: Call 144 immediately and describe the symptoms and onset of symptoms.

Illustration of the FAST rapid test for the detection of strokes